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Sirhornsalot

September Landscapes – Volunteers aren't always welcome

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Getting rid of those "volunteer trees"

We get a lot of calls and requests for removal of unwanted trees, or as we call them – “volunteer trees.” Homeowners call them “junk trees” or “weed trees” or even “trash trees” because they can grow near trash cans.

These are trees that are not planted, but show up and grow in places that we don’t want them. And thats mostly because birds are responsible for their germination. These trees appear along fence lines, behind and/or beside AC units, pool pumps as well as inside flower and shrub beds. They will appear poking though a shrub line or even behind a shrub line along the foundation. In each case, it will be directly below where birds will perch. Seeds fall out of they beaks, dropping to the ground, and later becoming a new tree.

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In DFW, the most common culprits we find growing where they’re not supposed to are Ash, Cedar Elms, Hackberry, Mulberry, and Sumac trees. The Cedar Elms blow in via the wind, as well. But most saplings are bird-caused. So there’s really no escaping whats happening, but we can do something once they appear – pull them.

By pulling them, they will not reappear a few weeks later. Cutting them will only see them return weeks later. You can poison them but thats really pointless because you still have to physically remove them.

They cause all kinds of problems for us, namely growing along fence lines making the fence unstable. HVAC folks tell us that AC units need at least three feet clearance on all sides so the units can “breath.” When clusters of tree saplings begin growing around the AC units, the breathing of the units becomes restrictive.

Foundation repair will be in your future if one of these is allowed to grow along your foundation line. Trees love sending roots under foundations because moisture is concealed under the concrete. But to have one right next to the foundation means the largest roots will try to upheave your foundation at some point. I have seen this problem develop many times and each time, the homeowner really didn’t know where the tree came from or how it got there.

Common weed sprays will not kill these saplings. You can sometimes kill them with a kill-all type product but it may take a couple of treatments to get a kill. The fastest and more sure way is to remove them by hand by pulling them straight out of the ground, roots and all.


The Tree Warranty

I am often asked about “warranties” for trees that we provide to customers. Unfortunately, we do not provide one for trees or plants. Most landscape companies do not. The reason we don’t is because the wholesale nurseries we buy from do not.

Literally, we think of this as a service to our customers in that we go to the nursery, pick out the best specimens we can find and make the purchase. We load them properly (tarped with mesh tarp) and transport them to the customer’s location. Of course, we unload them and then plant them.

To that point, we’ve no knowledge of the histories of the trees, we’re seeing them for the first time. Wholesale nurseries buy their stock from various locations across the country. So there is some inherent risk involved with any tree purchase or planting. Most nurseries will tell you that for whatever reason(s), one out of every 10 trees planted will die of shock or suffer shock so severely it needs to be replaced.

However, a good proper planting followed by tender loving care in their first six months will almost always result in success. It is wise that when you purchase a tree from your landscaper that you also purchase some sort of follow up care as well. That way, if something were to start going wrong, the landscaper will see it early and be able to resolve it.

Its been brought to my attention that some of the box stores offer warranties on their trees. From what I’ve experienced, the 30 gallon trees I see sold are actually 15 gallon trees planted in 30 gallon containers, giving them the profit needed to support a warranty and then some since the price jump is almost double from one to the other. They win and you get to think you win, too. 

Fungicide about to become scarce

When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, it was late summer. Two weeks later and for weeks after, you could not find a bottle of fungicide in the Dallas/Ft Worth Metroplex. All supplies of all types of fungicides were sent to New Orleans in response to the clean up efforts after Katrina. That includes the organic fungicide, horticultural cornmeal. It was also unavailable in Austin and Texarkana. I know. I remembering checking. lol

As a result, DFW landscapers were very limited in how we could respond to outbreaks of lawn fungus that Fall. By the time new supplies finally arrived, we had already experienced our first frost (which kills fungus). So it was pointless by then.

I am thinking we’re about to see a repeat of that shortage of fungicide. It might be wise to pick up a bottle or bag while you can.

One way to combat it before fungus strikes is to prevent the conditions that fungus thrives in. Cool and longer nights, shorter days with an ever lowering sun in the sky are the set up conditions for fungus. If you add water to that list, then you’ll have the creation and spread of lawn fungus. If you were watering 3-4 days a week during the summer, you can reduce that to 2 days a week now.

To make things worse, the nitrogen in our fertilizers will further enhance the growing conditions for fungus. So we help prevent it by preventing the wet cool nights and just have cool nights instead. Have your sprinkler system turn on in the early morning, say 5 am or 6 am so that by the time night time rolls around, most of the moisture has been removed from the turf.

This is especially true this year because here we are in the first week of September with lows in the 60s and highs in the 80s. So this year in particular is setting up well for fungus. Don’t let it hit your lawn.

The cooler the nights become, the slower the growth in the lawn. So the bad thing with fungus is that the damaged spot(s) will likely not recover until next spring when we have fresh, new growth again.


Various Tips for this month

1. If you have trees that need to be trimmed, get it done either in September or by October. Either way, do it while the leaves are still on the tree. This makes it easier to identify dead limbs and where necessary clustering is occurring.

2. Pre emergent – If you intend to sew winter rye grass in your lawn next month, do NOT apply pre emergent to your lawn this month. The pre emergent will cause your winter rye to not germinate.

3. Fall Fertilization – If you have not applied yours yet, do it now and cut your ratio in half (amount applied). Everything indicates we’re in for a cooler than average Fall season. A standard ratio of fertilizer now will lead to fungus, later.

4. Fall/Winter Flowers – By Oct. 1, you will begin seeing new flats of flowers on the nursery racks. These are Pansies, which will grow and thrive throughout the Fall and Winter season and will last until April. They will be sold through the whole month of October. I caution against buying during the first week, as those tend to be the smaller sized and sometimes don’t even have blooms yet.

5. In case you’ve forgotten from my last month’s column, set your sprinkler start times to morning starts. We make this change typically on Labor Day each year. Morning starts will help prevent lawn fungus during the Fall.

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Stupid question, why does anyone put rye down? Vanity? Does it help your "nomal" grass? St Augustine, the most common grass in the south, goes dormant in the winter and always comes back in the spring. By putting rye down, you have to mow your grass in the winter months that you normally don't which I just find silly.

I may not always "like" your write-ups but I do read them so thanks again for the information!

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2 hours ago, tejasrulz said:

Stupid question, why does anyone put rye down? Vanity? Does it help your "nomal" grass? St Augustine, the most common grass in the south, goes dormant in the winter and always comes back in the spring. By putting rye down, you have to mow your grass in the winter months that you normally don't which I just find silly.

I may not always "like" your write-ups but I do read them so thanks again for the information!

 

Thats not a stupid question. I think we've all asked it at some point. lol.

There are several reasons to sew Winter Rye in your turf. 1) It makes for a beautiful winter lawn with deep green color, and 2) It does help keep weeds out of the lawn because it chokes them out when your turf grass is weak and dormant.

Winter rye normally needs mowing every two weeks. It also requires 2-3 fertilizations during the winter.

So here are my thoughts on winter rye:

1. Because of the fertilizations required with winter rye, you end up putting a significant amount of nitrogen in your soil since you're now applying it year-round. That will have a negative toxic effect within a year or two.

2. It is best that you NOT sew winter rye in a St Augustine lawn. St Augustine does not perform well when cut so short during winter weather. It also comes out of dormancy much sooner than Bermuda and much sooner than winter rye is ready to die off. You end up hurting the performance of the St Augustine. Bermuda seems to do just fine through that same process though.

As much as I'd like to make money on winter rye installations, I have to be honest with my opinion on it.

 

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Sirhornalot I live in Austin and for the last two years my oak trees have started losing their leaves in September.  Once they start they drop pretty fast - my driveway is covered with dead leaves.  Last year like I said was the first year this happened and the trees got their leave back.  Have you heard of something like this?  There are a lot of oak trees in my neighborhood and I have only notice one other house where this happens.

 

Thansk

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1 minute ago, cesolrac said:

Sirhornalot I live in Austin and for the last two years my oak trees have started losing their leaves in September.  Once they start they drop pretty fast - my driveway is covered with dead leaves.  Last year like I said was the first year this happened and the trees got their leave back.  Have you heard of something like this?  There are a lot of oak trees in my neighborhood and I have only notice one other house where this happens.

 

Thansk

What kind of Oaks do you have? Live Oaks?

There is a parasite that does infect Oaks that can cause premature leaf drop. You mentioned that the leaves are "dead" when they fall so that would b a symptom of that parasitic damage. I would call in an arborist and have them take a look.

If the leaves are green when they fall and just turn brown after they've dropped, then you are dealing with mischievous squirrels. Squirrels removing leaves or groups of leaves is quite common.

 

 

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Green Thumb is proud to announce that Stagecoach Trailers, Inc., has become a sponsor of Mark Lyon's monthly landscape column.
Stagecoach Trailers is located in Naples, Texas and produces both spec and custom trailers there. Stagecoach is owned by Randy Myers.
"I'm proud to be affiliated with such a top quality product," Green Thumb owner Mark Lyon said. "Randy and his staff are experts and produce a superior product which we use ourselves. His trailers are a step above the others."
Lyon's landscape column has been published monthly for the past 12 years and appears on Facebook as well as other websites.
http://www.stagecoachtrailers.com

 

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Just an FYI. I see some of you on a regular basis, others on a semi-regular basis. So I'll go ahead and give you a heads up before you want to ask.

At some point within the next two weeks, I will shave my head bald. I've never done this before, but my sister in Longview has been diagnosed with breast cancer stage 3 and begins chemo tomorrow. She will lose her hair within the first 10-14 days after chemo begins. It is my desire to not let her go alone down that road. So I will join her in ditching my hair. Do not call the police. lol

 

 

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1 hour ago, MikeV73 said:

Mark, my sister had my dad trim some Oaks a week ago and forgot to apply pruning seal.  Should we apply it now, or leave it alone?  I read somewhere that you don't want to seal in any parasite or fungus with the pruning seal at a later date.  

 

We do not use pruning seal at all. Science has changed its mind on this and has determined that the seal interferes with the tree's natural healing process. So we don't do it. The reason for it was to protect against airborne disease, such as Oak Wilt. The better remedy has been simply not pruning when Oak Wilt is in reproductive phase (March thru June).

Relax and enjoy the game.

 

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SHA, I have a question. My property has been decimated by oak wilt (or decline as some people call it). Is there a tree besides cottonwood or silver maple that I could plant that is fast growing?

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3 hours ago, Sirhornsalot said:

 

We do not use pruning seal at all. Science has changed its mind on this and has determined that the seal interferes with the tree's natural healing process. So we don't do it. The reason for it was to protect against airborne disease, such as Oak Wilt. The better remedy has been simply not pruning when Oak Wilt is in reproductive phase (March thru June).

Relax and enjoy the game.

 

Thanks, I will try and enjoy the game but will hardly be relaxed.

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1 hour ago, Baron said:

SHA, I have a question. My property has been decimated by oak wilt (or decline as some people call it). Is there a tree besides cottonwood or silver maple that I could plant that is fast growing?

Fruitless Mulberry is a fast grower and great shade tree. But the trade-off with fast growers is the shorter lifespan. They'll get big, fast, but won't live nearly as long as others. The Silver Maple and Mulberry will go about 25 years in good situations.

The Shumard Red Oak is a hybrid Oak that was created with oak wilt resistance, and they grow fairly fast.

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On 9/16/2017 at 6:47 PM, Sirhornsalot said:

Fruitless Mulberry is a fast grower and great shade tree. But the trade-off with fast growers is the shorter lifespan. They'll get big, fast, but won't live nearly as long as others. The Silver Maple and Mulberry will go about 25 years in good situations.

The Shumard Red Oak is a hybrid Oak that was created with oak wilt resistance, and they grow fairly fast.

Thanks. What do you think about a mixed combination? I'm looking to replace about 4 acres of trees around the house.

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3 minutes ago, Baron said:

Thanks. What do you think about a mixed combination? I'm looking to replace about 4 acres of trees around the house.

 

I love the idea because of the mixed color combinations in fall and also the fact that trees, in general, like being around each other and trees of other types.

You could mix in Pecan trees, Hickory, and even Persimmon. If Oak Wilt has been present, I would refrain from planting Oaks right now until some time has passed since the last of the Oak Wilt has been observed. Trees you know that have it should be removed.

What size trees are you looking for and where is this located?

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