Every year in late winter or very early Spring, homeowners and landscape professionals are faced with the question of whether or not to prune their Crape Myrtle trees. Traditionally, Crape Myrtles have been pruned or "topped off" each year. Contrary to popular belief, however, pruning your Crape Myrtle tree is not necessary and does not help it to grow/flower earlier or more. In fact, pruning your Crape Myrtle tree delays its blooming in most cases. The only reason behind pruning your tree is to keep it at a certain size, or shape, or to improve its appearance. If your Crape Myrtle was planted too close to a walkway, building, or other landscaping, pruning may be necessary to keep the tree from growing into an area where you do not want it, or from growing too large.
If you choose to prune your Crape Myrtle, there are two common methods that are used. The most common method is pollarding. When pollarding, the tree is continually cut in the same spot (usually a large diameter branch) in order to keep the Crape Myrtle at a certain height. Over time, at the point where the tree is pruned, a swollen area forms, known a pollard, or commonly referred to as a "knuckle".The other option for pruning your Crape Myrtle is tipping, which is also commonly referred to as tip pruning. When tipping, you prune the tree through much smaller diameter branches around the top of the canopy and rounding out the shape of the tree. These branches are usually less than a year old. This process is very time consuming, but in the end creates a very attractive, rounded tree.
In the end, the decision on whether or not to prune a Crape Myrtle tree lies with the owner of the tree. If the owner would like the tree to stay at a certain height, or would like to improve the aesthetics of the tree, then pruning is recommended, but not required. Pruning of a Crape Myrtle does not encourage more, or improve growth, and does not increase the amount or duration of its blooms. In actuality, it delays the tree's blooming.
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Sunday, April 30, 2017
While a drought will definitely take its toll on a lawn and landscape, it can be kept beautiful with a little extra care. To maintain a beautiful lawn and landscape during a drought follow these steps:
- Check your irrigation system to ensure it is working properly. Ensure that all areas of your landscape are being watered evenly.
- Do not water your lawn more than it needs. Do not water your lawn to the point that you have run-off or standing water. This water in most cases is not absorbed by the roots of your landscape and just ends up in storm drains or evaporating. Most of the time, your lawn still only needs to be watered twice per week, as long as you apply 1/2-3/4" of water each time. All of the counties in Florida and most around the country all have watering restrictions in place, for only two days per week anyway.
- Mow your lawn at the highest recommended height for your lawn. A taller lawn has a more substantial root system, and thus requires less water.
- Keep your mower blades sharp, and never remove more than 1/3 of the height of your lawn. Dull blades and cutting a lawn too short both cause undue stress on a lawn, which require more water to recover from.
- Water your lawn and landscape early in the morning. Watering late in the day causes your lawn to stay wet for too long, which can cause disease. Never water between 10 am and 4pm. Most of the water during this time frame evaporates before it is absorbed into the soil and root system of your lawn and landscape.
- Do not apply herbicides to your lawn. While they kill weeds and generally do not harm your grass, in many cases they do weaken your lawn somewhat. In order to regain its strength, your lawn would need and use more water.
- Postpone any applications of fertilizer. Adding nutrients to your lawn will cause it to grow more, using more water. Applying fertilizer during dry periods can actually "burn" your grass as well.
- Mulch your landscape beds. A study conducted by Texas A&M University showed that plants that are mulched require 25% less water.
For more information visit us at www.hibiscuslandscapes.com
source: University of Florida IFAS Gardening Solutions
Thursday, February 16, 2017
Can you overwater your lawn?
You can absolutely overwater your lawn. Actually, overwatering your lawn can be as detrimental to your lawn as not watering or under watering. Overwatering causes several different things to happen in your lawn. It can make your lawn more susceptible to fungi, most notably brown patch (otherwise known as large patch). Many different types of weeds also flourish in overwatered lawns, including dollar weed. If you notice an abundance of weeds in your lawn, that you did not have before, you could be watering too much. Applying too much water to your lawn can also cause the color of the lawn to change, signifying a less healthy lawn. If your lawn is turning yellow, or a yellow-green color this is a sign of a lack of Nitrogen. The amount of nitrogen in your lawn and soil can be depleted by watering too much.
Are there any other signs I am watering too much?
There are several other warning signs that can signify you are overwatering your lawn. If, when you walk across your grass you leave "depressions" that do not spring back into place as you walk, you most likely are watering too much. Another sign that your lawn is being overwatered is the blades of grass curling. If you look closely at your lawn and notice the blades curling up, they have been watered too much. In addition to changing color to yellow, if your lawn changes color and is a gray-blue color, you most likely have applied an excess amount of water.
So, what is the right amount of water to apply to my lawn?
The amount of water that your lawn needs differs based on the type of grass you have. A St Augustine lawn needs about 3/4" of water each time you water. Zoysia grass needs 1/2", and Bahia grass needs 1/2-3/4" each time you water. You should water your lawn twice a week during daylight savings time (March-November), and only once per week during Standard Time (November-February). To check how long you need to water, take empty tuna or cat food cans and place them in several areas of your lawn. When the amount of water in the can has reached the desired height (as determined by your grass type), you have watered enough. This only needs to be done once, to determine the length of time needed foe each watering cycle. Never water your lawn between the hours of 10am and 4pm, as most of the water output at this time will just be evaporated by the sun. You should also never water your lawn on an extremely windy day, as most of the water will be blown away by the wind. Be sure to have the rain sensor on your irrigation system checked, to ensure you are not watering during or after rain.
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Sunday, February 5, 2017
Did You Know?
Did you know that in most counties and municipalities that it is actually illegal to blow your grass clippings, leaves and other debris into the storm drain? We often receive requests from our customers to do this, and it is often not understood why we cannot do it. These county and city codes exist for several reasons. One, the debris that is blown into the drain can clump together inside storm water system. Once it clumps together it can cause blockages in the system, which would restrict the flow of rain water. When that flow is restricted, the water has no place to go except for back into streets, causing flooding. That flooding can cause extreme damage to our roadways, homes, cars, and other property. Standing floodwater also can pose threats to our health.
Another reason it is illegal to blow yard waste into the street or into the storm drain is the pollution caused by the debris. Grass clippings and other debris are made of primarily nitrogen and phosphorous. When these two elements are introduced in large quantities to our lakes and rivers, our waterways can be damaged. These elements can cause algae blooms, which deplete the oxygen in the water, thus causing fish and other wildlife to perish. This is one of the most common causes of fish kills in lakes and rivers.
Instead of blowing debris into storm drains, it should be blown back into the landscape. Contrary to popular belief, grass clippings blown back into a lawn are actually good for the lawn. As stated before, grass clippings contain high amounts of nitrogen and phosphorous, which are two of the main ingredients in most fertilizers. When those clippings decompose, they actually fertilize your lawn. This is not a substitute for regularly fertilizing your lawn, but is a bonus feeding for your lawn.
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Here is the county code from Seminole, County FL as it relates to storm drains.
Sec. 270.397. – Stormwater Discharges to the County's MS4 and Waters of the United States.(a)
Prohibition of Illegal Discharges. No Person may Discharge or cause to be Discharged into the County's MS4 or other watercourses any materials, including but not limited to Pollutants or waters containing any Pollutants that cause or contribute to a violation of applicable water quality standards, other than Stormwater. Discharges to the County's MS4 must be controlled to the extent that such Discharges do not impair the operation of the County's MS4 or contribute to the failure of the County's MS4 to meet any local, state or federal requirements, including, but not limited to, NPDES Permit No. FLS000038.