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October Landscapes – Avoid the monumental "Oops!"


Sirhornsalot
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fallen-tree.jpg

 

The mistakes that cost you. Literally

Better to communicate, be sure, before cutting around the property line

 

The story I’m about to tell you is true. This actually happened. And I tell this story so that hopefully it doesn’t happen with you at some point.

 

About five years ago, a customer we have who has done business with us a few times a year gave us call. My wife took the call. Our customer was beside herself, just infuriated yet went into tears before our call was finished. When we finally got her to calm down and slowly explain herself – a homeowner horror story unfolded.

 

Our customer had owned their home for about 25 years. It sat in an upscale University Park neighborhood, in a circle. So in the circle, the driveways would come together at the street due to the angles of each property.

 

The house next to them sold. New neighbors moved in one weekend. Two weeks later is where we pick things up with the phone call.

 

As she explained, they had a full grown Texas Red Oak that sat about 5 feet off the property line. They had planted this tree when they moved into the home.

 

The new neighbors woke up one day and simply cut the tree down while our customer and her family were out and about. When she returned home, the horror of what had happened immediately set in.

 

Apparently, the new neighbors were not aware of where the property line was located. They mistakenly thought the tree was on their property, even though one look at where the two fences merged would easily show what property the tree was on.

 

Our customer and the neighbor discussed the situation and due to the obvious responsibility factor, the neighbor agreed to pick up the cost.

 

The stump was ground out, debris removed = $400

Cost of new adult tree = $13,000

Cost of installation and irrigation set up = $1,000

 

How does that sound for a “welcome to the neighborhood†mistake? lol Lesson to learn here – pay attention to property lines. Know where they are. Refer to your survey drawing provided at time of purchase.

 

The best advice is to have a conversation with your neighbor before you do anything near the property line. It may mean nothing to them, but they will appreciate your communication and consideration. That’s the neighborly thing to do.

 

men-talking-over-fence-678847-gallery.jpThe common courtesy is to talk with your neighbor before making any changes at the property line that might affect them.

 

Can I Cut That Limb?

One of the most common questions I hear during fall is regarding trimming trees that sit on a neighbor’s property, but extend onto your property. They can become problematic because 1) Its always been your neighbor’s tree so you assumed it was his to take care of, and 2) Your neighbor probably never sees your side of the fence or any problem you’re dealing with.

 

I have two suggestions on this situation and one is something I’ll be repeating:

 

1. Have a conversation with your neighbor. Explain the problem. Explain your proposed solution. Go from there.

2. Do not do anything, including during the process of trimming, that would jeopardize the health of the overall tree.

 

You are legally allowed to trim the tree on your side of the property line. You’re not allowed to cause or contribute to its death. Try to cut in a way that will not take away from the overall appearance of the tree.

 

 

outdoor-holiday-lighting-ideas-102070839

 

Christmas lights already? Surely, you jest

 

Believe it or not, now is the time to begin thinking about your exterior Christmas light display if you’re wanting to have that done this year. Consultations on Christmas lighting normally takes place throughout October so that installations can be performed more to the customer’s timing preference the following two months.

 

Many landscape companies will offer Christmas lighting services and have been doing this for years. You will want to have a meeting at your place with a representative of your landscape provider. He/she will discuss options and make recommendations based on your feedback. From there, they will come up with a plan and estimate for you.

 

Installations for Christmas lighting normally begin during the first week of November. Some customers prefer to wait until after Thanksgiving but many have begun having their installations done in time for Thanksgiving festivities. Our package includes installation, removal, and storage through the off season.

 

If you’re in the DFW metroplex and are interested in a free quote, email us at greenthumbtx@verizon.net.

 

 

The Fall Color Change

 

October is the month when Pansies and Kale become available. As I mentioned in last month’s column, it’s best to skip the first week of the month and purchase during the second and third weeks of the month when the flowers are larger and blooming.

 

There really isn’t a flower option for fall that will last throughout winter other than Pansies and Kale, but if you’re open to adding some Fall Flavor to your beds Mums, whether planted in your beds or in pots around the landscape, are an awesome way to showcase some Fall color.

 

Just know that they won’t last much longer once we have freezing weather. But for the couple of months they’re in the landscape, they are attention grabbers with their classic autumn hues of orange, gold, bronze and russet.

 

 

Plant a Tree!

 

October and November are two of the best months on the calendar to plant a new tree or install a new landscape. These two months are favorable because they allow the largest window of time between installation and the heat of next summer. This allows trees and shrubs precious time to become acclimated to their new confines and get their roots exploring the surrounding soil.

 

Trees add value to your home and property. They create precious shade during the spring, summer and fall which can help curb your monthly electric bill.

 

The right type of tree located in the right spot on the property can elevate your home’s resale value. For instance, a Bloodgood Japanese Maple located in a prime viewing spot can be one of the reasons a property sticks out in a potential buyer’s mind.

 

Already have several full size trees on our property? Why not add an ornamental tree or flowering tree? Many trees, such as the many varieties of Japanese Maples, prefer to be understory trees or like having larger trees around them for protection against the harsh sun.

 

One of the funnest family activities is for the whole family to get involved in the planting of a tree. As the years go by and the tree grows large, you will feel an attachment to that tree as you’ll remember how you gave it a new home and a great start. About 40 years ago my parents decided to plant a new tree and get the family involved. Today, I’m still planting them. :)

 

Contact your landscape professional about the best types of trees to plant in your own landscape.

Notes for October . . .

 

1. If your sprinkler system is still running at three days per week, you should reduce that to two days per week now. Remember, early morning start times!

 

2. Do not fertilize your lawn during October, especially if you have St Augustine/Zoysia turf. It can cause fungus to appear.

 

3. October is a great month to trim your deciduous trees as the living limbs still have foliage and can easily be distinguished from the dead limbs that need to be removed.

 

4. If you will notice, Fruitless Mulberry Trees in the Metroplex are dropping their leaves this week. This is an annual occurrence where they all drop them at the same time, but this year is unusually early for that to happen since we have not had a frost in DFW. But they’re dropping! 

 

5. With temperatures cooling, you should now lower the blade level on your lawn mowers by one notch. This will allow more sunlight to the soil level, causing it to be warmer than it otherwise would be – extending your turf’s growing season.

 

Now is the time when I take any questions readers may have. Fire away!

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Since I'm not going to be watching as much college football this year, I guess my yard should finally get the attention it has been needing.

 

I'm looking forward to what I need to do between now and next April 1, roughly the time when I switch out the fall/winter flowers, spread the weed and feed and start my summer routine.

 

I had some per-emergent left over from the spring. I threw that on the lawn a couple of weeks ago, in the hope of stunting the winter weeds. I have some Bayer 6-month weed and feed left over. Do I also throw that on the lawn, or do I throw it in the trash?

 

I am thinking of getting some cotton burr mulch to replenish the soil and to also build subtle contours on the slopes (to retain run-off from the rains and reduce watering needs). When should I put the cotton burr mulch on the yard?

 

Do I need to do a fall fertilizer pass on my shrubs?

 

The sprinkler system needs some work, I'm planning on putting that off until around the last freeze in the spring. I will have to tear up some grass and I want to do the destruction right when the (St. Augustine) grass starts to grow again to minimize the scars. Good thinking, or not?

 

I'm pretty much in the mode of re-staining the fences, playing with the winter vegetables and doing nothing to the lawn, shrubs or trees (they are already cut back from the house) until mid-Feb when I aerate the yard and spread per-emergent again. Is there anything I am forgetting for between now and April?

 

Oh, and any thoughts on maintenance to the bbg grill?

 

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What routine do you recommend for lawn care during the Fall/Winter as far as mowing, watering and fertilizing?

 

 

If you're in DFW or East Texas, no fertilizer until next April 1. If you're further south, you can do it but there is risk of causing fungus in the lawn. Reduced ratio with your spreader, if you do.

 

Lower your blade this month, by one notch.

 

You'll have three mows in October and likely two mows in November. Then its dormancy.

 

However, if you have deciduous trees in the landscape that drop their leaves in fall, you'll want to run your mower over those leaves several times and let those nutrients return to the soil. If you leave the leaves where they fall, it can cause disease as it hides the grass from the sun.

 

You should be watering twice a week right now and through first part of November. After that, once a week through winter unless we have an unusually dry winter. Remember, we often get a lot of wind in winter and that is as bad as heat on a landscape. So its necessary to water some in the winter, too. It also keeps that foundation from getting too dry.

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Since I'm not going to be watching as much college football this year, I guess my yard should finally get the attention it has been needing.

 

I'll believe it when I see it. lol

 

I'm looking forward to what I need to do between now and next April 1, roughly the time when I switch out the fall/winter flowers, spread the weed and feed and start my summer routine.

 

I had some per-emergent left over from the spring. I threw that on the lawn a couple of weeks ago, in the hope of stunting the winter weeds. I have some Bayer 6-month weed and feed left over. Do I also throw that on the lawn, or do I throw it in the trash?

 

Good move on the pre emergent. You missed your early September window on that but we'll just say you were early on the November application. :) Do not fertilize your lawn now. Your Bayer should be fine to keep until spring. Just make sure it's not in sunlight and is sealed.

 

I am thinking of getting some cotton burr mulch to replenish the soil and to also build subtle contours on the slopes (to retain run-off from the rains and reduce watering needs). When should I put the cotton burr mulch on the yard?

 

Using Cotton Burr as a topdressing is a great idea. That will need to happen around 2nd or 3rd week of February. Apply heavier on the trouble spots of your lawn.

 

You will want to use a topsoil to build up low areas. The compost will eventually disappear on ya.

 

CBC is a natural water retention tool for us. It keeps moisture when everything else is dry. But IMO its real value are the nutrients it contains. It truly does amazing things with St Augustine and Bermuda turf.

 

Also, CBC softens our black clay soils, making it easier for the roots to do their exploration thing.

 

Do I need to do a fall fertilizer pass on my shrubs?

 

Yes, but use a product designed for shrubs and no higher in nitrogen than say "10"

 

The sprinkler system needs some work, I'm planning on putting that off until around the last freeze in the spring. I will have to tear up some grass and I want to do the destruction right when the (St. Augustine) grass starts to grow again to minimize the scars. Good thinking, or not?

 

Not a good idea. You'll need to run that system at least some during the winter months. And if it's broken and a hard freeze or ice hits, then suddenly you have PVC pipes breaking or busting. I'd get it dealt with now and avoid it leading to a different headache.

 

I'm pretty much in the mode of re-staining the fences, playing with the winter vegetables and doing nothing to the lawn, shrubs or trees (they are already cut back from the house) until mid-Feb when I aerate the yard and spread per-emergent again. Is there anything I am forgetting for between now and April?

 

Pre emergent in November, by middle of month. But you already put down some. More won't hurt a thing.

Keep the leaves mulched up and not sitting on the lawn.

Do your late winter topdressing on the same day as your aeration. 

Trim your trees now. Trim your Crapes in February.

 

Oh, and any thoughts on maintenance to the bbg grill?

 

It's good to scrub the grate down with a steel brush and some anti-bacterial soap. There are products made specifically for this. But I try to do this a couple times a year. Its also a good time to clean out the ember well and get rid of those ashes. Honestly I usually just throw mine into the lawn, scattered so it doesn't all land in the same place. I do the same with my coffee grinds.

 

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If you're in DFW or East Texas, no fertilizer until next April 1. If you're further south, you can do it but there is risk of causing fungus in the lawn. Reduced ratio with your spreader, if you do.

 

 

 

Lower your blade this month, by one notch.

 

You'll have three mows in October and likely two mows in November. Then its dormancy.

 

However, if you have deciduous trees in the landscape that drop their leaves in fall, you'll want to run your mower over those leaves several times and let those nutrients return to the soil. If you leave the leaves where they fall, it can cause disease as it hides the grass from the sun.

 

You should be watering twice a week right now and through first part of November. After that, once a week through winter unless we have an unusually dry winter. Remember, we often get a lot of wind in winter and that is as bad as heat on a landscape. So its necessary to water some in the winter, too. It also keeps that foundation from getting too dry.

I'm in dfw. Thanks for the tips. How about pre-emergent, winterizer or any other nutients to spread during these months.

 

TIA

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This is great, I look forward to this at the start of each month.

 

I lowered my mower by 1 notch and started cutting today, but the grass that is left is very yellow.  It is like only the tops of the leaves are green, so when I cut that off it is all yellow.  A couple details - I'm in DFW area, this is a new house, so the sod was put down back in April, and I haven't been cutting weekly...more like every 3 weeks  :(

 

I raised the mower back to where it was (3.5 in. I think) and finished cutting.  Should I wait a couple days and then trim it lower?

 

Thanks!

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I'm in dfw. Thanks for the tips. How about pre-emergent, winterizer or any other nutients to spread during these months.

 

TIA

 

 

There is no such thing as "winterizer." That was a ploy by Scott's to sell more product. And they still do it through "WinterGuard." They were taken to court over the winterizer concept and lost. So they had to ditch the name since it didn't actually do what they claimed it did. Thats why you see "WinterGuard" on the shelves now with some different legal verbiage in the small print.

 

The next nutrients you'll put down will be the compost topdressing in late winter.

 

Pre emergent in early November, then again in first week of February. The heavier the ratio, the better.

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This is great, I look forward to this at the start of each month.

 

I lowered my mower by 1 notch and started cutting today, but the grass that is left is very yellow.  It is like only the tops of the leaves are green, so when I cut that off it is all yellow.  A couple details - I'm in DFW area, this is a new house, so the sod was put down back in April, and I haven't been cutting weekly...more like every 3 weeks  :(

 

I raised the mower back to where it was (3.5 in. I think) and finished cutting.  Should I wait a couple days and then trim it lower?

 

Thanks!

 

 

Yes, you should cut it to your normal height. Then wait a few days and cut it shorter. The yellow you see is where the sun is not hitting it. 

 

Just remember . . . it takes a weed 2 weeks to produce a seed, sometimes less. Each time you wait 3 weeks to mow, you're allowing the seed to form and then you're actually scattering it with your mower. That said, you may not even have weeds with a brand new lawn.

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Wow I never thought about cutting weekly to prevent weeds....I was just being lazy.  I actually did notice some weeds poking through here or there.  The builder said no fertilizer this year, but maybe I should look into pre emergents.

 

 

Your builder . . lol

 

When a lawn is sodded, you have to wait 90 days before applying fertilizer. Not a whole year.

 

Pre emergent has one function – sterilize soil so weed seeds cannot germinate. It does nothing else. It does not kill weeds. So the objective is to put down the pre emergent just prior to periods where seeds can germinate, such as before fall rains, spring rains, etc. You should have three applications per year coming in early Feb, late Aug and mid-Nov.

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Sirhornsalot,

I know your are a DFW guy but seem to be aware of other areas of state. 

My septic system is an old gravity system about 15 years old. We've had issues with seepage especially on weekends when my wife does a lot of laundry. On June 1, we met with the contractor who has done most of the maintenance on the system since we bought the house in 2006 to discuss a new system.

Long story short, we have wasted the summer with design work, LCRA inspection, health issues with the contractor.

 

I called LCRA today, the permit for a new system s good for a year. I've reached a point where I don't want to do anything that requires new turf ( two Golden Retrievers) until Spring.  Do you think there is still time to get down new turf healthy for winter?

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Popdaddy, where ya at?

 

You mention LCRA, so I assume you're in the Austin-San Antonio area or in between?

 

Being that far south, yes you could do that and be fine. I have sodded St Augustine lawns up here in DFW in the middle of January. It turned out fine. If you do, you just need to make sure the turf gets wet before any cold weather. We normally get rain before the cold air arrives but its good to be mindful of that.

 

 

 

 

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13K for a new adult tree? Wow!  BTW,, the dude was an idiot for cutting that down without knowing for sure if it was his or not. Did he not pay attention to the survey flags on his new property?

 

 

I actually met the couple. And I can confirm your suspicions. They were of the idiot persuasion. lol

 

"Well, we just thought nobody would mind. It's just a tree" . . . . . , no, it's also a lot of money. lol

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Popdaddy, where ya at?

 

You mention LCRA, so I assume you're in the Austin-San Antonio area or in between?

 

Being that far south, yes you could do that and be fine. I have sodded St Augustine lawns up here in DFW in the middle of January. It turned out fine. If you do, you just need to make sure the turf gets wet before any cold weather. We normally get rain before the cold air arrives but its good to be mindful of that.

 

I live on Lake Travis. A cove is across the street so we are in a low area that typically maintains a more moderate tempature than up the hillside during cold months.

I have common Bermuda now, don't want St. Augustine due to water requirement. The back yard gets some shade from live oaks so I'm thinking about the King Ranch 419 tiff I have planted in a couple of spots. What would you recommend for late season turf planting?

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I live on Lake Travis. A cove is across the street so we are in a low area that typically maintains a more moderate tempature than up the hillside during cold months.

I have common Bermuda now, don't want St. Augustine due to water requirement. The back yard gets some shade from live oaks so I'm thinking about the King Ranch 419 tiff I have planted in a couple of spots. What would you recommend for late season turf planting?

 

 

That 419 Tiff won't make it in shade. You could sod Zoysia in that shaded area. Its a very nice turf, my favorite. It will handle the shade and be fun to walk through in bare feet. It will also take full sun just fine.

 

If you wait to do this during November or December when we're getting some freezing weather, just make sure you water the sodded turf before that weather gets to your place. Wet turf is more difficult to freeze than dry turf. Since evaporation isn't much of a factor, you won't need to water like crazy when you sod. Every third day for two weeks would be good. Then water as you would the rest of your turf.

 

Other than that, there's really nothing different about sodding then or in summer.

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13K for a new adult tree? Wow!  BTW,, the dude was an idiot for cutting that down without knowing for sure if it was his or not. Did he not pay attention to the survey flags on his new property?

 

 

To clarify, an adult tree requires a very large hole which we must dig with special equipment. Then we have to use a crane to unload the tree and place it in the hole. It's a pretty cool thing to watch.

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That 419 Tiff won't make it in shade. You could sod Zoysia in that shaded area. Its a very nice turf, my favorite. It will handle the shade and be fun to walk through in bare feet. It will also take full sun just fine.

 

If you wait to do this during November or December when we're getting some freezing weather, just make sure you water the sodded turf before that weather gets to your place. Wet turf is more difficult to freeze than dry turf. Since evaporation isn't much of a factor, you won't need to water like crazy when you sod. Every third day for two weeks would be good. Then water as you would the rest of your turf.

 

Other than that, there's really nothing different about sodding then or in summer.

 

The grass place in Oak Hill sells a brumada called "Celebration" that sounds shade ok. The backyard gets about half shade during the day. How does brumada Celebration compare to Zoysia?

I'm planning on replacing all the side and front yard grass that is full sun as well.

 

Thanks for the dialogue.

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The grass place in Oak Hill sells a brumada called "Celebration" that sounds shade ok. The backyard gets about half shade during the day. How does brumada Celebration compare to Zoysia?

I'm planning on replacing all the side and front yard grass that is full sun as well.

 

Thanks for the dialogue.

 

 

There is no bermuda that can survive in shade. Celebration is no different. Celebration is known for its drought tolerance more than anything else.

 

If you simply don't want to get into going into another turf, you could take that shaded area and turn it into a bordered river rock garden with some shade-friendly plants. Use the small 1"-2" river rock and not the larger stuff. You can border it off from the lawn using a chopped natural stone or even a simple metal edging. It ends your frustration while brightening up a dark area of the landscape. The river rock is a one-time purchase, is easily blown through with a blower without losing your rock (unlike a mulch) when you clean up the leaves. Looks nice, too.

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Thanks for the insight and advice. Truly appreciate it. Here's an issue that I've been dealing with for a couple of years. I have a pair of Bradford Pear trees and the grass below them and around them keeps getting overtaken by clovers. We're almost at a point of starting all over and resodding that whole area. Before we do that, any advice on how to get rid of the clovers and restore the grass? Thanks again.

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Thanks for the insight and advice. Truly appreciate it. Here's an issue that I've been dealing with for a couple of years. I have a pair of Bradford Pear trees and the grass below them and around them keeps getting overtaken by clovers. We're almost at a point of starting all over and resodding that whole area. Before we do that, any advice on how to get rid of the clovers and restore the grass? Thanks again.

 

 

If the grass is Bermuda, then thats why you have clover there. Bermuda does not like being under trees which cause shade. With each year, that Pear tree grows and casts more shade. And when the good guys (turf) leaves, the bad guys moves in (clover, weeds).

 

You may want to consider creating a large ring around that tree and creating a bed there with shade tolerant flowers/plants. Another option would be going to a St Augustine or Zoysia turf which tolerates shade.

 

You could probably pull off the Bermuda if you were to really stay after those Pear trees' growth, keeping them trimmed.

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SHA, I live in the San Antonio area. I have a problem you might be able to help me with. My yard is San Augustine. When does it go dormant? I want to time my final mow.

 

 

 

You'll likely mow twice in November. St Augustine will stay green through cool weather, it just won't grow much. But once you get that first freeze, it's heading to dormancy.

 

That should be in late November for your area, right?

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