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May Landscapes – Winter Storm throws Landscape Industry into crisis


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Winter storm leaves Texas landscape industry in crisis

In March’s column, I wrote about the landscape damage left behind by the unprecedented winter storm. The dead shrubs and plants and some trees will total in the hundreds of millions before we’re done. And since that March column, “unprecedented” is a word I’ve heard and used many times.

The landscape industry throughout Texas is experiencing unprecedented times. Everywhere we look, there are hurdles to overcome that are direct results from the winter storm.

I’ll start with plant stock. Inventories are stretched thin right now. Many of our “base shrubs” for landscapes are in short supply, leading landscapers to go with other types of shrubs, which are also now in short supply.

 

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Indian Hawthorns were hit probably the hardest. This is a base shrub in our typical Texas landscapes. I had one customer who lost 70 of them. Only in the most rare of cases did we find any survivors. While not totally out at this point, Indian Hawthorns have become very hard to find. In many cases, landscapers were replacing with Sunshine Ligustrum, which are now also in low supply.

Because of this overwhelming demand, some stock is being released to nurseries well before their time. Some shrubs and other plants, if you find them, will be on the small side (size-wise) because of this.

Growers are predicting that, at this rate, some species will depleted in inventories altogether, at least until next spring.

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As one might expect, many landscapers saw the crisis coming and bought up large amounts of plant stock. There are literally landscapers trading back and forth with plants and shrubs to fulfill orders right now. On the retail nursery side, some landscapers are turning to them to fill their orders, so consumers are now competing with that at the neighborhood nurseries.

Plants that are becoming increasingly hard to find right now include all of the traditional Palms we plant in Texas, Lorapetalums, Indian Hawthorns, Pittisporums (and Variegated Pittisporums), and Sunshine Ligustrum. These are base plants with which many landscapes are built on.

Trees and plants with the word “Japanese” in its name were successful in coming out of the storm. It tends to be colder in Japan than Texas. Hollies of all kinds, junipers, yaupons, and boxwoods made it through in good shape for the most part.

Trees so far have not been affected so much. Supplies are good. Storm casualties are few.

Thats the plants, lets move on . . .

 

Concrete

When the winter storm hit, it knocked many of the cement plants out of commission, with lines that froze and busted. Repairs were delayed because the storm lasted several days. This has caused a shortage of concrete and cement in the DFW area.

About a month ago, sales for concrete were shut down throughout the Metroplex at the end of day on a Thursday, affording the concrete plants some time to build up material before reopening supply lines the following Monday. This caused a ripple effect throughout the area with landscape contractors who had empty forms standing for a week. Since then, prices have been climbing.

Lumber

Lumber mills were affected as well, thus we now have shortages and outrageous prices.

A carpenter I often use placed an order totaling $1,000 from an estimate back in mid-February. In April, the customer decided to proceed. When this carpenter went to fill the order, that $1K order was suddenly $1,800.

Needless to say, prices have gone up dramatically.

How did a storm that lasted roughly a week cause so much chaos in the market here? Most of the problem was timing. This winter event happened right before the traditional spring season, which is when a vast majority of the plants are sold each year. Combine this with a sudden need to replace dead plant material on a vast scale – you have a crisis.

Nurseries are adapting, locating new sources further away just to find certain plants. This will ripple in those areas as well. But for the moment, I know the wholesale nurseries have extremely long lines each and every morning. Some orders take five hours to fill and load, adding additional stress to the industry.

When will it end and things get back to normal? Thats a question we’re all having a tough time answering right now. One nurseryman I know tells me that the amount of stock he expects to have by end of summer will be disappointingly minimal.

Oddly, other sectors of the landscape industry are clicking along as normal. Stone supplies are good. Mulch is plentiful.

This Spring has certainly started off cool so far. Forecasters are predicting the season’s first 90-degree temperatures this week before another cool front moves in. Once our temperatures start pinging the 90s like that on a regular basis, plants will grow faster, lawns will grow faster, the landscape becomes happy.

 

Grub Worms

Late May and into June is the general time frame where grub worms, climbing from six inches deep in the soil, begin feeding on the roots of your turf grass. They can literally eat a lawn up, from the underneath where you don’t see them.

Put down a granular grub control and water it in as soon as you apply it. You may want to re-apply again two weeks after the first application to make sure you get them.

Grub worms, besides eating the roots of your turf grass, are a favorite in the diet of gophers and moles. So their presence will causes mole runs in your lawn. Knocking them out will put an end to that.

 

 

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good write up

Palms: In a local forum here in Killeen-Ft Hood area, there's a thread on nothing but people complaining about dead palm trees. one guy had about 4 palm trees that were 30' high around his cement pond and all are dead.  He had three different arborist come out and all three confirmed his palms are dead.  This chucklehead is thinking about replanting with Palms... again 

Shrubs.  If people get too fancy or exotic, it will usually bite them in the butt at some point.  My Dwarf Yopan Holly survived the cold spell just fine and was green the whole time.  I planted them about 15 yrs ago about 2-2 1/2 feet apart and they look like one long shrub today. Like Crape Myrtles, Japanese Dwarf Yopan Hollys love central Texas and act as if they are native.  

Concrete: "it knocked many of the cement plants".  Boy, did I read that wrong initially.  Plastic plants I've heard of but concrete plants?  

Lumber: Lumber is outrageous right now. A lot of construction has simply stopped.  I thought OSB sheets were way too high last year at $20 a sheet for something that use to be ~$12 a sheet. It's simply glued together wood chips.  Two weeks ago, a worker checked on some supplies I had ordered and he said the OSB was up to $50 a sheet - outrageous. Luckily, I had already laid off my working crews.  I will slow things down quite a bit right now with the understanding that we could have a market crash later, thus more inflation

Grubs: About 20 yrs ago, I heard "Doctor of Dirt" Howard Garret say on the radio that only about 4 types of grubs ate living plant matter (roots) but I dont remember him saying which species they were. I'm going to have to find his book, "Insects of Texas" out in my garage to make sure I'm remembering this correctly.  He said 90 percent of grubs ate dead decomposing organic matter, which isnt a bad thing since they leave behind worm castings.  I dont know if its really a problem but some years I get so many June Bugs on my front and back porch that it looks like an insect attack in a horror movie.  Other than being a nuisance, are June Bugs and June bug grubs a problem?  I have a natural Bermuda and Buffalo grass yard and I havent really noticed a problem.  

Related question: Is "granular grub control" lethal to other beneficial soil insects?  I'm leery of putting chemicals out that may have unintended consequences.  

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On 5/1/2021 at 10:17 PM, Sirhornsalot said:

Plants that are becoming increasingly hard to find right now include all of the traditional Palms we plant in Texas, Lorapetalums, Indian Hawthorns, Pittisporums (and Variegated Pittisporums), and Sunshine Ligustrum. These are base plants with which many landscapes are built on.

I have a couple of Mediterranean Palms around my cement pond. One is coming back pretty good, the other a lot slower. On the slower growing palm, we have 1 trunk that has a lot of green, one that is very slowly coming back green however the other 3 are not showing any green and the middles we were able to pull out. The place we bought them said wait before we cut them down and we are but I don't have much hope of those coming back.

I had 3 crypte myrtles in my back yard, 2 (red rockets) made it, my favorite one (a Zuni) didn't. 

@Soldierhorn, palms while healthy are beautiful trees to have around pools so I can understand the chucklehead wanting to get more. I'm just not sure I would since they're so pricey. 

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18 minutes ago, tejasrulz said:

 

@Soldierhorn, palms while healthy are beautiful trees to have around pools so I can understand the chucklehead wanting to get more. I'm just not sure I would since they're so pricey. 

yeah, I'm just not a water person and will never have a swimming pool  And, I really dont have any desire to hang out on a beach or live on a tropical island; unless I can be Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando) in Apocalypse Now.  haha   just kidding; dont want libs freaking out.   

I recommended to Chucklehead (the forum know-it-all) to put up a couple of awnings in their place; maybe one with a roof and one with slats for shade.  He could put grill/smoker in one and outdoor furniture in the other. For me, other than aesthetics, palms provide nothing of value: no shade, no fruit, not native or really adaptable, and like my ex-wife, requires more maintenance to keep up the aesthetics than the overall value received. 

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48 minutes ago, Soldierhorn said:

yeah, I'm just not a water person and will never have a swimming pool  And, I really dont have any desire to hang out on a beach or live on a tropical island; unless I can be Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando) in Apocalypse Now.  haha   just kidding; dont want libs freaking out.   

I recommended to Chucklehead (the forum know-it-all) to put up a couple of awnings in their place; maybe one with a roof and one with slats for shade.  He could put grill/smoker in one and outdoor furniture in the other. For me, other than aesthetics, palms provide nothing of value: no shade, no fruit, not native or really adaptable, and like my ex-wife, requires more maintenance to keep up the aesthetics than the overall value received. 

Mine were planted to strategically block the view of our neighbors while in the hot tub. 😉 

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4 hours ago, Soldierhorn said:

good write up

Palms: In a local forum here in Killeen-Ft Hood area, there's a thread on nothing but people complaining about dead palm trees. one guy had about 4 palm trees that were 30' high around his cement pond and all are dead.  He had three different arborist come out and all three confirmed his palms are dead.  This chucklehead is thinking about replanting with Palms... again 

Shrubs.  If people get too fancy or exotic, it will usually bite them in the butt at some point.  My Dwarf Yopan Holly survived the cold spell just fine and was green the whole time.  I planted them about 15 yrs ago about 2-2 1/2 feet apart and they look like one long shrub today. Like Crape Myrtles, Japanese Dwarf Yopan Hollys love central Texas and act as if they are native.  

Concrete: "it knocked many of the cement plants".  Boy, did I read that wrong initially.  Plastic plants I've heard of but concrete plants?  

Lumber: Lumber is outrageous right now. A lot of construction has simply stopped.  I thought OSB sheets were way too high last year at $20 a sheet for something that use to be ~$12 a sheet. It's simply glued together wood chips.  Two weeks ago, a worker checked on some supplies I had ordered and he said the OSB was up to $50 a sheet - outrageous. Luckily, I had already laid off my working crews.  I will slow things down quite a bit right now with the understanding that we could have a market crash later, thus more inflation

Grubs: About 20 yrs ago, I heard "Doctor of Dirt" Howard Garret say on the radio that only about 4 types of grubs ate living plant matter (roots) but I dont remember him saying which species they were. I'm going to have to find his book, "Insects of Texas" out in my garage to make sure I'm remembering this correctly.  He said 90 percent of grubs ate dead decomposing organic matter, which isnt a bad thing since they leave behind worm castings.  I dont know if its really a problem but some years I get so many June Bugs on my front and back porch that it looks like an insect attack in a horror movie.  Other than being a nuisance, are June Bugs and June bug grubs a problem?  I have a natural Bermuda and Buffalo grass yard and I havent really noticed a problem.  

Related question: Is "granular grub control" lethal to other beneficial soil insects?  I'm leery of putting chemicals out that may have unintended consequences.  

 

All you need is one of the 4, and they are plentiful, and there's nothing you can do to keep them away from your lawn. Yes, they are a problem. However, they prefer St Augustin or Zoysia. They could be eating your natural Bermuda and you don't realize it. Bermuda recovers so fast the damage is minimal.

The grub kill I use will also kill 26 other lawn insects, because it is combined with Bifenethryn.

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4 hours ago, tejasrulz said:

 

@Soldierhorn, palms while healthy are beautiful trees to have around pools so I can understand the chucklehead wanting to get more. I'm just not sure I would since they're so pricey. 

Palms are a natural choice because 1) they look tropical, a natural around a pool, and 2) they don't dump anything into the pool.

The storm we experienced, we'll probably never see again in our lifetimes. I would not hesitate to put another Palm in the ground.

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3 hours ago, Sirhornsalot said:

 

All you need is one of the 4, and they are plentiful, and there's nothing you can do to keep them away from your lawn. Yes, they are a problem. However, they prefer St Augustin or Zoysia. They could be eating your natural Bermuda and you don't realize it. Bermuda recovers so fast the damage is minimal.

The grub kill I use will also kill 26 other lawn insects, because it is combined with Bifenethryn.

I put Bifenethryn down about a month ago.  Trying to make sure the damn white flies don't come back this year.  What is the time frame to re-apply this?

 

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11 hours ago, Sirhornsalot said:

Its gone in a couple weeks. Insects are just now coming out, at least in DFW.

It's May now and usually I see some Galls on my Bur Oak.  I dont see a single one under any leaf.  I dont know if the cold winter hit them hard, or the Nematodes are more effective this year, or whatever... but it's a pleasant surprise. 

 

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18 hours ago, Soldierhorn said:

I dont know but use to put ladybugs in the garden to combat white flies and other bugs.  We would have some white flies in the lawn but assumed they came from the garden.  

 

Nope. Those come from sod web worms. Those flies lay the larvae that become the worms. When you see those flies, know that your lawn is on the menu.

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5 hours ago, Sirhornsalot said:
23 hours ago, Soldierhorn said:

 

Nope. Those come from sod web worms. Those flies lay the larvae that become the worms. When you see those flies, know that your lawn is on the menu.

My lawn service treats each year for grubs and cinch bugs. Will that take care of the sod webworms?

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50 minutes ago, Bear19 said:

My lawn service treats each year for grubs and cinch bugs. Will that take care of the sod webworms?

No. Sod Webworms don't really get going until mid-October and thats over a month after the Chinch Bugs began feeding (late Aug). 

Sod Webworms are difficult to kill anyway. They tunnel into a hole-tunnel-like web of thatch and hide at the bottom during the day. They are protected there not only from predator insects and birds, but also from my chemical. They come out at night and feed on your lawn. So for the best kill you must spray as the sun goes down.

You can know you have sod webworms by walking through the turf. If you have white moths flying up after every other step, then you have the sod webworms. You will also notice little holes in your turf, often at a slight angle and not straight up and down. Those little white moths/flies will lay the larvae that becomes the sod webworm.

 

 

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FACTS OF THE DAY ....
Cucumbers... I didn't know this... and to think all these years I've only been making salads with the cucumbers...
1. Cucumbers contain most of the vitamins you need every day, just one cucumber contains Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc.
 
2. Feeling tired in the afternoon, put down the caffeinated soda and pick up a cucumber. Cucumbers are a good source of B vitamins and Carbohydrates that can provide that quick pick-me-up that can last for hours.
 
3. Tired of your bathroom mirror fogging up after a shower? Try rubbing a cucumber slice along the mirror, it will eliminate the fog and provide a soothing, spa-like fragrance.
 
4. Are grubs and slugs ruining your planting beds? Place a few slices in a small pie tin and your garden will be free of pests all season long. The chemicals in the cucumber react with the aluminum to give off a scent undetectable to humans but drive garden pests crazy and make them flee the area.
 
5. Looking for a fast and easy way to remove cellulite before going out or to the pool? Try rubbing a slice or two of cucumbers along your problem area for a few minutes, the phytochemicals in the cucumber cause the collagen in your skin to tighten, firming up the outer layer and reducing the visibility of cellulite. Works great on wrinkles too!!!
 
6. Want to avoid a hangover or terrible headache? Eat a few cucumber slices before going to bed and wake up refreshed and headache free. Cucumbers contain enough sugar, B vitamins and electrolytes to replenish essential nutrients the body lost, keeping everything in equilibrium, avoiding both a hangover and headache!!
 
7. Looking to fight off that afternoon or evening snacking binge? Cucumbers have been used for centuries and often used by European trappers, traders and explores for quick meals to thwart off starvation.
 
8. Have an important meeting or job interview and you realize that you don't have enough time to polish your shoes? Rub a freshly cut cucumber over the shoe, its chemicals will provide a quick and durable shine that not only looks great but also repels water.
 
9. Out of WD 40 and need to fix a squeaky hinge? Take a cucumber slice and rub it along the problematic hinge, and voila, the squeak is gone!
 
10. Stressed out and don't have time for massage, facial or visit to the spa? Cut up an entire cucumber and place it in a boiling pot of water, the chemicals and nutrients from the cucumber will react with the boiling water and be released in the steam, creating a soothing, relaxing aroma that has been shown the reduce stress in new mothers and college students during final exams.
 
11. Just finish a business lunch and realize you don't have gum or mints? Take a slice of cucumber and press it to the roof of your mouth with your tongue for 30 seconds to eliminate bad breath, the phytochemicals will kill the bacteria in your mouth responsible for causing bad breath.
 
12. Looking for a 'green' way to clean your taps, sinks or stainless steel? Take a slice of cucumber and rub it on the surface you want to clean, not only will it remove years of tarnish and bring back the
shine, but is won't leave streaks and won't harm you fingers or fingernails while you clean.
 
13. Using a pen and made a mistake? Take the outside of the cucumber and slowly use it to erase the pen writing, also works great on crayons and markers that the kids have used to decorate the walls!!
 

 

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1 hour ago, Oldmanastro said:

What about sod? It seems that St Augustine is nowhere to be found. I’ve heard the grass farms were hit hard. Can’t find a pallet or cuts anywhere.

Its really not that bad. I haven't had any trouble getting sod. St Augustine can tolerate a couple of days of freezing weather. Most of the St Augustine sod farms are near the coast, because it is a coastal grass. The only issue I've heard they're having is finding help.

Bermuda is grown mostly in Oklahoma, which had it worse than we did. But Bermuda is a very resilient grass and does bounce back.

Where are you located? Maybe I can help you out on the sod?

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1 hour ago, Baron said:

I just got home for the first time since the storm. It looks like WWIII was fought here. 75% of my Live Oaks are gone and about a 3rd of my Post Oaks. I have fire wood for years.

Don't give up on your Live Oaks. Give them a little time before you cut them down. They are coming back very well up here in DFW, but very slowly. Not all Live Oaks respond the same way.

Those Post Oaks and Pin Oaks will make good firewood.

 

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SH, have you heard of this?  I was watching a video and the guy was saying that a fungus is growing in the abdomen of the insects. when they come out of the ground, their rear end comes off and all that is left is a white fungi mass. The fungi apparently is hitting certain receptors that cause the cicadas sex drive to go into overdrive and, since they dont have a rear end where the sex organs are they are literally tearing themselves apart trying to satisfy the sex urge. I havent heard how wide spread this is nor what it ultimately means n nature.  

 

Cidada-Cnn.jpg

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2 hours ago, Soldierhorn said:

SH, have you heard of this?  I was watching a video and the guy was saying that a fungus is growing in the abdomen of the insects. when they come out of the ground, their rear end comes off and all that is left is a white fungi mass. The fungi apparently is hitting certain receptors that cause the cicadas sex drive to go into overdrive and, since they dont have a rear end where the sex organs are they are literally tearing themselves apart trying to satisfy the sex urge. I havent heard how wide spread this is nor what it ultimately means n nature.  

 

Cidada-Cnn.jpg

That sounds so sad. I've not heard of it before. Maybe there won't be so many of them at my front door this year. lol

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Price gouging anyone?

As I said in my column, landscapers are having to shop retail nurseries to complete some of their orders this season due to the winter storm effects.

Yesterday, I'm hitting the retail nurseries looking for Oak Leaf Hydrangeas in a 3-gallon size. I needed 5 of them. I found two at a local nursery and purchased them for $30 each, which is what I normally pay for that plant in that size.

I later walk into Lowes and into their nursery to try to complete my order. I found three Oak Leaf Hydrangeas in a 3-gallon size. Lowes price?

$63 each.

Seems like you can COUNT ON LOWE'S to stick it to you when things are bad.

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All the rain we've had has shown me that water puddles on the side of my house allot. Would you just use dirt to try to slope it away from the house? Thx.

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