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  1. One of the site members here has an apartment available for sub-lease in West Campus at The Block on Leon Street. The Block The apartment is a 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom and is unfurnished and currently has one person living there (male). If anyone is interested please post here and he will get in touch with you.
  2. When is the best time to start that new landscape? RIGHT NOW I am often asked “when is the best time to install a new landscape?†What better way to answer that question on a large scale than by starting the August column with that question? When I consider when the best time to install, I look at the hottest, most stressful time of summer and try to create the largest window of time I can between install date and that hottest part of summer. That would mean that the end of summer (August) would be the beginning of prime time to install landscapes. So how do you get the ball rolling? First, call a landscaper and schedule a meeting with him/her. If you don’t have a referral on one, you may want to choose to have three meetings with three different companies so you can have additional options. Before your meeting, make sure you have collected your thoughts and ideas so that you can share them with the landscaper during your meeting. If there are certain plants/trees that you would like in your landscape, make that known. If there are things you’d rather not see, make that known also. Your landscaper will walk your landscape with you and share his own ideas. This is valuable because so many times this is the first time he/she is seeing your place, so you’re getting valuable first impression feedback and will be left with lots of ideas to think about. At that point, the landscaper will go back and design your landscape, create the estimate, and send it to you. You have a right to request changes to whatever plan you receive. That may sound fundamentally like a no-brainer, yet there are landscape designers out there who create designs that they refuse to alter or change. You should ask up front if there will be any design fees associated with your landscape plan. Some are free while others are not. You should not distinguish the two, as free designs and purchased designs are seldom much different in quality. The estimate portion of the landscape plan package should be itemized. You should not give a go ahead to an estimate that simply reads “New front landscape – $2,500.†If you’re not provided with an itemized estimate, request one. It is good to know what you materials you’re paying for and the quantity. That also allows you to see labor costs separately. If there will be any digging involved with your project, make sure the landscaper intends to have your utility lines marked prior to beginning the project. It is the law and it will help keep you from having interrupted services. There is no charge to have all utility lines marked and is made convenient because consumers can simply call 1-800-DIGTEST to submit the request. However, the landscaper will take care of that chore for you as part of the project. Once installed, a new landscape must be given some extra attention. You can’t just set you sprinkler system and call it a day. I advise clients to put their eyes on the plants and trees every day for at least the first month. That way, if any of the plants take a turn for the worse, the landscaper can be called out to potentially treat/correct and resolve the issue. If a plant looks thirsty, give it extra water. Very few, if any, landscape companies will offer a warranty on plants and trees. When they arrive with your plant stock, they’ve simply saved you the trouble of selecting and buying the plants and trees yourself. Landscapers typically buy from wholesale nurseries and growers which allows them to sell them to you for less than retail, in most cases. Nurseries and growers do not warranty their stock. The Lawn in August August brings us the dog days of summer, but for the landscape its a key month, particularly with the lawn. So this month, we’ll examine each of those items one by one to hopefully end up on the right side of happy landscaping when the month is over. All of the tireless work put into the lawn can be taken down in days this month as Chinch bugs will be making their annual appearance this month. In fact, they’re early this year, we’re already running into some of their damage in lawns around Dallas-Ft Worth. Chinch bugs prefer a dry, hot environment so they’ll seek out places that fit that criteria, such as near concrete curbs, sidewalks, driveways, or stone bordering – all materials that will absorb and retain heat during a summer day. So naturally, this is where they will feed, eventually extracting all of the moisture from sections of turf. This will turn the turf totally brown and depleted of moisture in small sections, eventually growing to larger sections as the colony grows in size. Other than observing their damage, how can I know when I have Chinch bugs present? There’s an old trick that is true and reliable and will enable you to detect the presence of Chinch bugs. You can take a used coffee can, . . does not need to be a big one, and eliminate the ends (top and bottom) using a can opener. Sink one end of the can into the turf where you suspect the Chinch bugs are located. Push it into the turf about a quarter-inch. Then, fill the can about half way or so with soapy water. If Chinch bugs are present, they will float to the top in seconds. Products such as Bifen or Triazamide can be used to kill Chinch bugs. While it may not be necessary to treat your entire lawn, you do want to treat well beyond the dead areas in all directions. Treatments this month Due to the mild winter we had a few months back, everything in the landscape seems to be a step ahead of pace this year. So we respond by treating our lawns for things a little sooner than we normally would. I recommend that you get your third pre emergent application of the season down in the second and third weeks of this month. I also recommend that you go ahead and put down your third fertilizer (or weed/feed) treatment down at the same time. I am no climatologist, but knowing Texas weather trends only requires that one live here long enough. lol I believe we’re in for an early fall and a colder than usual fall. So getting the pre emergent and fertilization down early will pay dividends for your lawn. Both products are time release in most cases, so early application won’t hurt anything if I’m wrong on the timing/early fall prediction. What is pre emergent anyway? Pre emergent serves one purpose only – to sterilize soil so that weed seeds cannot germinate. It will also stop winter rye grass from germination so do not apply if you intend to sew winter rye in October. Speaking of Fall . . . If you’re like me, you really enjoy and appreciate the colors of fall. Now is the time to start feeding your Maples, Pistache, Red Oaks, so that your fall color will be the best it can be. You also want to make sure they get plenty of water this time of year as fall color is not only dictated by climate conditions, but also the amount of water and nutrients its taken in during the previous weeks/months. During February, well before the trees and perennials have come out of dormancy, I begin feeding them. I want them to have the nutrients they need as they come out of dormancy and then of course, throughout spring. The stronger specimens you can create through spring will dictate how well they perform during the hot part of summer. What to feed? I like using water soluble products that aren’t likely to burn or cause stress. One example is Jack’s 10-30-20, a granular product that is mixed with water and can be poured around the base of a tree or plant. Regularly applying this way will make great things happen. You can even feed during the heat of summer, albeit at a reduced ratio. You can also add other products, such as Superthrive, a plant hormone supplement widely available. You can even combine the two products in the same mixture. You can also add Epsom Salts from time to time to get some extra lushness in your plants/trees. However, an elderly lady once advised me to use “manure tea.†Manure tea is simply taking a few dried cow patties and putting them in a bucket of water. Let it sit in direct sun for a couple days then pour around the base of your plants. I highly recommend this method as its helped many of my trees grow at an optimum rate. If you have pets, make sure your bucket of tea is not accessible to them as they will sometimes want to drink when its hot and you’re not looking. Bird Baths Make sure you are regularly changing the water in your bird baths. We want to try to deter the ability of mosquitos to reproduce in standing water and regularly changing the water can help prevent that. You may also want to clean your bird bath this month as in most cases, algae and fungi form on the bottom of the bowls because of abundant sun/heat/water in one place. You can use bleach to clean them pretty effectively, but you want to make sure you rinse it out thoroughly to remove as much bleach residue as possible. And on that note, I’ll open up the forum for questions. If you have one, simple or complicated, fire away!
  3. The Heat of Summer is Here, But Don't Sweat It! July is here, welcome to summer in Texas. Coming into this month, we’re sitting in much better shape than we have in the past. Here just north of DFW, we’ve had only one day of 100 degrees so far and ample rainfall. We’re pretty green going into July and thats a very good thing. What to do this month? July is not really a month of growing, but a month of surviving. Most plants will not look their best in high heat conditions like we’ll have this month. So the focus this month is surviving and improving our chances of better performance in the landscape. If you haven’t put down your June fertilization, go ahead and do that now before its too late. However, cut your spreader ratio in half so that the amount of nitrogen is reduced. This will help keep your turf out of stress. Once applied, water for two days in a row to get it soaked into the turf good. Here are some tips to giving your lawn optimum chances are not only surviving July, but continuing the health and vibrance that began in the spring. 1. Raise Your Mower Blade – The shorter you keep your lawn, the more stress it will be in during July. Days are very long and very hot and with short turf, the sun is able to zap the moisture out of the soil very quickly, causing stress. Stress leads to other issues, including pests such as Chinch bugs. So raise your blades to at least 3.5 inches and preferably higher during the month of July. The taller turf can be maintained just as effectively as short turf, as far as looks go. But taller turf will help your lawn survive the hottest months because it conceals the soil surface which allows the turf to keep its moisture, longer. 2. Change Your Sprinkler Start Time to 11 p.m. – This will allow your turf increased time with the water you’re providing it. That increased time will result in a healthier turf. You may also want to increase the cycle times by 5 to 10 minutes (sprays, rotors, drips). 3. Sharpen Your Mower Blade – If you haven’t done so in a while, sharpen your mower’s blade. Doing so means the difference in whether your blade actually cuts the grass or tears it. When your blade tears the grass, it causes stress to the turf. 4. Water After Mowing – If you can, try to follow up your mowing with watering your lawn. When the lawn is mowed, a wound is created more or less. If allowed to be exposed to direct sun and heat for any length of time, it will causes the tips of the blades to burn and fray. Watering the lawn immediately after mowing will prevent that from happening and cause a speedy recovery for the turf. 5. Adjust Zone Times – Not all sprinkler zones are created the same . . . hopefully you’ve become familiar with the layout of your sprinkler system and are generally familiar with where the zones are located in your landscape. Some of those zones will have eastern early day sun while others will have extended periods of sun most of the day. Obviously, the zone area that receives so much more sun will require more water than the zones on the east side which aren’t as exposed. Customize your settings to allow more run time in those exposed areas. Here are some tips for how to handle your landscape beds during the hot weather: 1. Unless its absolutely necessary, do not trim your shrubs this month. Trimming them back puts exposure on leaves that are older, more vulnerable and have been protected to some extent by the new growth the shrubs have grown during the spring. It would be best to wait until the latter part of August before you begin trimming them again. 2. Landscapes are NOTORIOUS for having plants, shrubs, flowers, etc., that are not native to Texas. These are plants that are native to other places, most of which are not nearly as hot as Texas and summers are not as long. So mistake number one is to think these plants and trees are just going to thrive here without our help. July is a month where those plants need our help to get by. So in addition to what your sprinkler will do, you can find a higher rate of success if you manually water some plants that otherwise have a tough time. This is especially true with a new landscape. So how do you know which plants need the extra water? Its good to research the plants you have so you can know how to treat, feed and water them. But in many cases, the plants themselves will tell you when they need water. Poking your finger into the root ball and being able to determine what kind of moisture is present is a good way to monitor these plants. Many plants will “droop†their leaves when they’re needing a good watering, such as the Hydrangea, for example. 3. With heat comes insects. Some plants and trees in our landscapes are vulnerable to some insects during this hot time of year. Crape Myrtles, for example, are often targets of insects such as Aphids and Scale. Both of these insects attack Crapes, feeding on the nutrients and moisture in the tree. If allowed to continue without treatment, it can damage the tree. Scale does not look like an insect. It looks like white crust on the limbs, trunks and bark of the tree. Aphids can be green or black/brown and will cluster. Both insects leave behind a sugary residue which makes the leaves look wet. Ants and other insects feed on this residue. Get rid of the Scale and Aphids, the other insects will leave. Aphids and Scale will also attack a number of shrubs in the landscape as well. Malathion, available retail, is one product that is effective in eliminating Scale and Aphids. 4. Replenish the mulch in the beds. Add to our existing mulch to make sure your plants are protected. Mulch helps retain moisture in the soil below, allowing your plants and trees to have moisture, longer. Its good to have two to three inches of mulch. 5. Check the coverage of your sprinklers in the beds. Often times, shrubs will grow to a height where they begin stopping or decreasing the spray of water to surrounding plants. If this is the case in your beds, consider either adding a head or increasing the height of the blocked head. You can increase the height by adding a “riser†to the head or replacing with a taller head. So many times a customer has come to me with “I don’t understand why THAT shrub won’t grow while the others do†and find out it was because THAT shrub just wasn’t getting enough water. It’s also a great idea to check your entire system this month. In the heat we have in July, it won’t take long to see damage occur when a sprinkler system isn’t operating properly. It’s better to stay on top of that this month than suffer damage to parts of your lawn or beds. And Tips on How to Deal With You: 1. Try to mow your lawn and perform your landscape duties during the morning or evening, during the cooler parts of the day. 2. If you feel faint or dizzy or abnormal in other ways while performing your duties, stop and go inside. Do not brush it off and think it will pass. Better safe than sorry. 3. Hydrate yourself before, during and after you mow or work in the landscape. 4. Wear protective clothing. Despite the heat, it's not appropriate and is dangerous to wear flip flops while mowing. In fact, I suggest you wear jeans, long sleeve t shirt (to protect against sun rays), and a hat that has a large brim that will shadow your face and neck along with a pair of work boots or at least leather sneakers. Fall Tomatoes! In Texas, one of the great things about gardening is that we have such a long, long growing season. In fact, we have a second season (Fall) for tomatoes. IF you intend to have Fall tomatoes this season, you need to have your plants in the ground (or in a pot) by July 15. If you wait longer, you may not get ripe fruit before the first frost/freeze. When you plant them, remember to submerge 80% of the plant beneath the surface of the soil. This will provide for a stronger, more vigorous root system. You can create your Fall tomato plants by snipping suckers off of your spring tomato plants and sticking them into small pots and keeping the soil wet for a week. The sucker will grow roots and become a new plant. If you do this now, you’ll have time to get them into the ground by July 15. Tree Trimming Remember when I said do not trim Oak trees in Texas between March and June? Okay, June is gone and the threat of Oak Wilt is decreased now. But there is still a decision to be made regarding trimming. If the tree in question (to be trimmed) is in an irrigated environment, then you can trim your tree without there being much of a consequence. If the tree is in a non-irrigated environment, then do not trim until Fall. Trees will often try to grow more growth (particularly in Texas) on the west side. One assumes that this is done so that the tree can gather more sunlight and increase photosynthesis. And that would be right. But, they also do it to protect their root ball zone from the sun. That protection is generally needed the most during July and August when its the hottest. In an irrigated environment, a tree is at minimal risk. The tree doesn’t know this, but you do. Help! My Tree’s leaves are showing burned ends! I typically receive some questions each year around this time regarding the ends of leaves turning brown and curling on some trees, particularly new ones. This is normal for some trees and is a self-defense mechanism. This would be true for all Maples, including all types of Japanese Maples. The tree will sacrifice the outer leaves to protect the leaves of the inner canopy. Newly or recently planted trees will also show this type of reaction in this heat. Its a form of plant shock and while the tree will likely survive, it will need your TLC to do so. Keep the tree watered, but don’t over water or allow the root ball to stay wet for long periods of time. Water them well, as in saturating the root ball. But allow them to dry out some, too, before watering again. In other cases such as these symptoms striking an established, mature tree, it represents stress and can indicate the presence of insects/pests or disease. So it’s best to have a professional look your tree over good if your tree begins suffering this way. If there are any questions, concerns or issue anyone would like to toss out here for an answer – ask away. There is no question too simple or too complicated.
  4. How to deal with stone vendors An acquaintance of mine who lives in another state shared with me a story about their experience with one of their do-it-yourself projects at their home. He and his wife had decided to create a sitting area in the back landscape where they could sit with friends around a fire pit which they would also build. So he sketched out a drawing of what they wanted it to look like. They decided what materials they would need and how much. After determining costs, they proceeded with their project. Unfortunately, it didn’t get off to a good start. They ordered some flagstone and some chopped stone, along with about two yards of topsoil from one of their local stone/soil vendors. And, they requested delivery. My friend was not at home when the delivery arrived, as it arrived two hours later than scheduled. And in his wake, the delivery driver damaged an automated driveway gate, busted a sprinkler line, and put the materials onto his lawn instead of his driveway. Though he tried to speak with the vendor/owner about what happened, his complaints fell on deaf ears. They had their money. No one could prove the gate or sprinkler line were busted by the vendor. And they claimed the lawn thing was a simple misunderstanding. Just like that, their project was over budget even before it really got started. Consumers shouldn’t have to pay a price for doing business with a stone/soil vendor like that. When in this situation, shop around. Ask questions. Seek referrals. Referrals are a big deal as they indicate to you through experience what type of service you might expect. Once you’ve found a vendor you’re comfortable with and have made your order – get the name of the person you’re dealing with and a phone number so you can communicate with them on the day of delivery regarding timing. Also, let them know you’ll be contacting them that day regarding the timing of the delivery. Traffic and other things can make a delivery late. Let’s face it, big vehicles like that get no where fast. But this way you’ll be able to have an idea of exactly when they’ll arrive. Of course – be there when they arrive to deliver. Communicate with the delivery driver exactly where you want him to put your materials. And tell him what items, features or issues he needs to avoid on your property. Then simply make sure you watch everything get unloaded. This simple strategy will save you a ton of stress and frustration. If you’re shopping for flagstone and are picking out a pallet of stone to reserve, make sure you pay attention to the middle of the pallet. Look as well as possible into the middle section of the pallet. The best stone in the pallet is normally found on the top few layers and again at the bottom. Some stone quarries will try to cram less desirable flagstone in that middle section just to get rid of it. Not all stone vendors are the same just as any other business out there. Don’t rely on just what you see from the street or highway. Find out what you can about them before you do business with them. Here in Lewisville, there are a number of vendors to choose from. Two of them are directly across the highway from each other. I will never do business with one of them and quite frequently do business with the other (DFW Stone) and I gladly share that opinion whenever I’m asked. Here are a few other tips/ facts to consider in dealing with stone and soil materials and vendors: – Flagstone and chopped stone are sold by weight. Soil and gravel are sold by volume. – 1†or 1†minus flagstone thickness is not sufficient for a walking surface and instead is more suited to a stone wall construction where its not in a strength/support purpose. Patios and walkways should be done with at least 2†to 2.5†thick flagstone. – Flagstone and chopped stone pallets will come with stone of various sizes. The sizes are not across the board consistent. This is normal as all sizes will be needed in a flagstone patio or walkway construction. – Many stone/soil vendors will come up with catchy names for certain types of stone. There’s nothing wrong with this practice, but it will make it confusing when you call another vendor asking about a stone name that another stone vendor made up. In general terms, stone is normally described by the location it is taken from, such as Oklahoma or Oklahoma Blue, or Leuders (Leuders, TX). So if your vendor calls a stone “rattlesnake†. . just smile and ask where the stone comes from or is quarried at. – Do not try to order materials over the phone unless you have a clear understanding of what you’re getting. You don’t want to order bedding soil and have them dump 9 yards of clay fill dirt in your driveway. Why Deadhead? Most homeowners hear the term “deadheading†and aren’t really sure what it means. It has nothing to do with a Grateful Dead concert. lol Instead, pinching off the spent blooms of some flowers can cause them to bloom more and with higher volume. This works on perennial flowers such as Gerber Daisies, Salvia and Columbine. The objective of these plants is to grow, flower and then seed/reproduce before death. So if you take the spent flowers away before they’re able to set seed, the plant will set new flowers in an attempt to reproduce before it dies or goes dormant. Another reason for deadheading would be, for example, a plant like Columbine. Columbine produces generous amounts of seeds which cause more plants to grow up around it. So in order to contain the spreading, you must remove those spent blooms before they seed out and fall to the ground. For Daylilies, you want to remove the entire “tower†of the bloom, given that all the blooms on the tower are spent. Early June is a great time to deadhead. Many perennials have already presented their spring blooms and will continue through June and into July if you deadhead them now. Want to Create More Daylilies? Reproduce them from seed! Here’s the “how to†on that. Each time a Daylily blooms, that bloom becomes a seed “pod†after the blooming is over. At first, this pod will be bright green. You need to wait until the pod dries out and begins turning brown before you remove the pod. Inside each pod are dozens of seeds. Take the seeds and let them dry completely out for a day. Then, put the seeds into a sandwich bag and then into the refrigerator for three weeks. The conditions in your fridge will simulate winter to the seeds. When you remove them and that condition becomes warmer, the seeds think spring has begun and will emerge once planted. It normally takes about a week for them to emerge. This way, you don’t have to wait until next year to get your new daylilies. June Watering Schedule I’m often asked when the best time to water is. In some ways, that answer changes as the growing season changes. For instance, beginning on June 15 we will change our sprinkler settings in order for systems to begin operating in the late evening as opposed to morning watering. With the extreme heat we get in Texas, this simple change can mean the difference in a healthy lawn and a thirsty, parched lawn that struggles to survive July and August. On Labor day, we will change our start times back to morning start since temperatures begin cooling and nights become shorter at that time. So that settles the timing question for watering. But what about the number of days to water? In Texas, once temperatures are consistently in the 90s, we should be watering at least three times a week. Now here’s the kicker – one of the three days needs to be your mowing day. Watering your lawn AFTER you mow is very helpful to your turf. When a mower blade cuts a blade of grass, it creates a wound. Allowing the wound to sit, unattended so to speak, causes the tips of your blades to turn brown and frazzled. If you water very soon after mowing, that will not happen and you’ll get far better growth from your lawn. Let’s continue with this. Whats next? How long to water each day. Although there is some logic in what is commonly called “deep root watering†which translated means “water like its 1999.†That strategy only works when you have a property that is relatively level and doesn’t drain very fast. Thats simply not often the case in residential neighborhoods where each property is designed to drain away from the home structure and into the street. Since that is most often the case, I advocate shorter waterings. During the month of June, watering three days a week at 15 minutes per zone should be sufficient. Prolonged watering causes a lot of wasted water and often times, erosion. June Lawn Treatments If you haven’t already applied your grub control, go ahead and do so now. Winter in Texas was very, very mild this year so the grubs came to the turf root level much sooner than normal this year. Make sure you can have it watered in before any rainfall event as you don’t want your product to be washed off the lawn. Apply more thoroughly in the visibly weaker sections of your lawn. June is also the time for your second fertilization of the season. We’re right at the 90-day mark now from the last feeding and we want to get it down before the heat of July begins. I recommend you dial back your ratio from your spring application to further insure you don’t cause some burn in the turf. As always, water it in immediately after you apply.
  5. — Twitter API (@twitterapi) November 7, 2011 Didn't see this posted anywhere, this was from last Saturday. I'd like to think we live in a world where stopping to check if people ok isn't big news, but we don't. We as a society (I am guilty of this as well) are so consumed with our own business/agendas and getting everywhere as fast as possible that we may miss a chance to help someone in need.
  6. Hello Growing Season! April is here and that’s a big deal in the landscape business. Everyone wants to get outside and enjoy the mild weather and get their landscapes in order. And that’s what we’ll talk about in this month’s edition of the Landscape Column. Let’s start with those of you who have spent the winter inside or have avoided the landscape through the winter until now. I would suspect you have a major clean up due. Get rid of those leaves! You’ll see piles of leaves blown into corners of the landscape, around your shrubs and low growing perennials. They have to go. While it would seem they make a great mulch, they aren’t much to look at and are great habitat for snakes. If you haven’t mowed by now, do so. Your first mow of the season should be a short cut. We do this to enable the sunlight to hit the soil surface and warm it up. This will induce the turf grass to come out of dormancy. While some of your turf may already be out of dormancy, a short cut will get the rest of it going. Before you do that first mow, get your mower blade sharpened. Change your mower’s oil and spark plug. Do those three things and you should be ready to go. Shrubs need to be trimmed. Its quite common for most types of shrubs to abandon a branch here and there and die it off. Go ahead and trim those off so the shrub can focus itself on growing new stuff. Ditto for your trees. – Remember – if you have an Oak tree, do not trim it until after June. They are vulnerable to Oak Wilt disease during this time and Oak Wilt is actively pollinated in the air during this time. Trimming them creates entry points for the disease. – You can now put your hummingbird feeders out. We discourage having them out when there is a threat of freeze as that will kill hummingbirds. Hummingbirds will often times stick around if their food source is plentiful. Time to Fertilize! Part of getting things in order in the landscape is feeding your turf for the first time this spring. As of you April 1, its okay to proceed with that. If you’re in DFW and fudged by applying in March, you should have waited. One of the things I go by (besides a calendar) are the night time temperatures. When they are consistently above 65 degrees, we can fertilize. In North Texas, that hasn’t been the case until now. Fertilizing early can cause stunted growth and lawn fungus. Wait until your turf is actually growing before you put it down. By April 1 each year, St Augustine, Zoysia and Bermuda normally begin growing. I was recently asked to explain the differences in organic fertilizer compared to chemical fertilizers. An organic fertilizer must first break down before its nutrients are available for your turf to use. The most popular is corn gluten, because it contains about 7-9% nitrogen and can be applied using a common spreader. It may take weeks for the product to break down enough that the turf can put it to use. The pro here is the entire contents will break down and become part of the soil and improve it. Chemical fertilizers are most often sprayed upon a “carrier†pellet. These pellets allow us to spread the product using a spreader. The chemical is dissolved from the pellet upon contact with water and can immediately be used by the turf. Some products are designed to dissolve slowly, hence the term “time release†used in its marketing. The objective there is to disperse a little bit over a longer period of time, which is most often three months. Other products are water-based, meaning they will dissolve more thoroughly upon contact with water and is not considered a time-released product. Those often last only a month. Another primary difference in the two types is the organic fertilizer is low in nitrogen (7-9) while chemical varieties can be as high as 35. With fertilizer, too much is always a bad thing. Stay with the ratio recommended on the back of the bag of fertilizer. Adjust your spreader accordingly. My advice is – if you’re going to go organic, stay organic. Organic principles dictate that everything you do must be in harmony with everything else you’re doing in the landscape. Spraying weeds with a weed killer won’t disrupt your organic harmony, at least not that I’ve found. There are no organic answers though for treating grub worms or chinch bugs. On the chemical side, it is important to stick to the recommended ratios and apply at the correct times. April 1 is merely the first of three fertilizations during the year. The other two are in June and late August. We do not endorse a fourth application in the fall, as dormant turf does not require feeding. I’d like to emphasize that there is such a thing as too much on the chemical side. You can have no more than one application every 90 days. No sooner. Too much fertilizer can cause fungus or stunt growth or if its warm enough, burn turf. Be careful not to get lawn fertilizer into your beds. If necessary, apply by hand near beds as to not get the product near bedding plants. Also, any fertilizer that gets overcast onto cement surfaces, such as driveways, sidewalks, etc., will stain the cement/concrete. The product should be blown back into the lawn and off those concrete surfaces. Periwinkles or “Vinca.†Begonias April Flowers One of the more popular questions I hear this time of year is what type of annual flowers would be best to plant. That always depends on the criteria of the homeowner. For example, if you’re looking for a big splash but only for a short period of time – go with Petunias. Petunias are great for this purpose as they will continue to bloom through early summer. The heat of summer will knock them down, however. But for a spring time display that all the neighbors will talk about, I highly recommend you start with Petunias. They’re also great when you have a special occasion to “dress up†for, such as family visitors. And they’re usually available throughout the summer in nurseries. If your primary focus is keeping expenses to a minimum and need flowers to last the summer, there are two options I can recommend. Periwinkles would be the first option as they are very durable and are champion bloomers. They do need to be cut back from time to time, but they will stay with you all summer. Another option would be Begonias. They aren’t as flashy, but what they lack for individually they more than make up for collectively. They can be very showy when planted in close and in mass or when combined with something taller, such as a Tropical Hibiscus. All they really need is a soft, organic and aerated planting soil, sun, and water. Prepping your bed is the most important aspect of your flowers. Break up your soil, then pour some fresh planting mix over it (in abundance). Then mix the two together and start planting! Contractor locator services There are some things going on within the landscape industry – from outside the landscape industry, that are becoming detrimental to the industry and it's markets. What I'm about to describe are more or less scams, an attempt to put themselves between YOU and any landscape service you might be seeking in the name of making a buck on you. Angie's List, Home Advisor, and several others have popped up on the scene in the last 10 years. So what do they truly offer you? Supposedly, they're to be able to seek out the best of the best in order to remove hassle from your lives when seeking these contractors. But are they? I was contacted on behalf of my landscape company by several of these services. All they really wanted from us was some basic information. No pictures. No referrals. No testimonials. No visits to project sites. Nothing. With the limited amount of information they requested, how could you even make an educated guess at the task of doing the "leg work" for potential customers? Another service has recently moved into the DFW area within the last two years. All they do is act as a broker, obtaining people who want lawn service and then going out and contracting various lawn services to provide lawn service to them. They take a percentage of each service (which means the price goes up). They are eager to refer our service and have begged and pleaded for us to participate with them – yet they know absolutely nothing about us. I would recommend that those seeking lawn service or landscape services – go by the tried and true method – real life referrals from people you know. With that you get an example of the work from a real customer (someone you know), real feedback and critique, and you're likely dealing with a company which lives and dies by the quality of their work. It's hard to go wrong there. Common Purslane It can’t be a weed! lol They say one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. One of the “plants†that some call a weed in Texas is Purslane. It grows here naturally and is incredibly resilient. It can grow in the craziest of places, most often in the nooks and crannies of concrete seams as well as the lawn. Early on during my career, a friend of mine from Mexico laughed when he noticed that we were spraying this “weed.†He explained that Purslane is a very popular plant in Mexico and is used quite often in salads. It’s leaves have a crunchy texture and a lightly sour taste. It also contains more Vitamin A than all the other green, leafy vegetables that we commonly find at the supermarket. For those concerned with heart health, Pursaline is loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids. It also contain protein and carbs, so its great for those who watch their diets. You can harvest this plant a little bit at a time, so that the plant continues to produce for you throughout the season. Its cousin, Portulaca, is sold in most nurseries and is valued for its flowers and drought tolerance.
  7. The Rains are Coming, Is Your Property Ready For It? I’m going to talk about drainage this month. I’m doing this now because the spring rains are just over the horizon now and hopefully talking about it now will help you later in the month and beyond. Some may be thinking – “why do I need to read about drainage? I’ve been in my house 5 years and have had no problems.†While that may be true, the only certainty in life – and landscapes – is change. Drainage problems can be caused by a number of things but most often its simply time and changing terrain or added/removed features in the terrain. Nearby construction, erosion, all types of things can change the way water behaves, and where it goes. For instance, I developed a drainage problem on the south side of my home about five years ago. This happened after I had been in the home about eight years. But suddenly one rainy day, I have a lake on the south side. After investigating the “why,†I discovered that my neighbor had moved some things around in his back yard that was now forcing water over to my property. So just like that, I needed to do something to correct the problem. GOALS OF A DRAIN Before you build a drainage system, you need to closely study what benefits you can gain from one and build it accordingly. You can tie-in gutter downspouts directly into a drainage system, which reduces the amount of surface water that needs to be collected and drained away. By installing a drainage system you can improve your turf’s health, improve landscape plants and trees’ health, reduce the amount of mud tracked back into the home, and in general be able to enjoy more of your property. For more serious drainage issues, a section(s) of perforated pipe may be used to create a “french drain†whereby the perfed pipe is sunk into gravel and collects water that is forced by gravity to drain into it. The pipe is covered with a cotton sock which the water is easily able to drain through, but keeps the silt/soil/mud out of the pipe. These types of drains can be created where they are not visible from the surface. You will want to consult with you landscape professional to best determine what type of drain your property would require. A clogged section of black corrugated drain pipe. TYPES OF DRAIN PIPE The most common drain pipe you see used is the corrugated black plastic pipe. They are installed on new homes everywhere and are sold in many hardware stores. And I am here to tell you they are complete trash. We at Green Thumb will not install them. They will work semi-well for a short period of time. However, they crush easily under the surface, sometimes with simple foot traffic. And when they crush a blockage of the drain begins. Later, someone will spend a great deal of time trying to located the blockage to correct the problem. This plastic also rots fairly fast and due to its corrugated design, it naturally collects soil and debris in those corrugated pockets. What we prefer to use is the 4†PVC (both solid and perfed) and 6†PVC when the situation calls for it. It will last many years and is far easier to clean and maintain. It is also smooth inside so debris doesn’t get hung up so easily inside the drain. DRAIN BASIN/BOXES Drain boxes are used for central collection of water and provide a number of benefits. They allow for better routine maintenance by making more sections of pipe accessible for you. Debris and trash also naturally collect in the basin from the flow going through it. The grates can be removed for this purpose. Metal grates are available and recommended for driveway drains while plastic grates are often a better option for drains located in turf. In some cases, a small 4†surface drain is sufficient and can be installed by simply putting a “T†in the line. Do not underestimate the value of a drain system. They can save your home and belongings from disaster. Have your property evaluated now if you think you have an issue. That way something can be done to remedy it before the spring rains come. THIS MONTH – Don’t forget, for about three weeks this month we’re all going to hate Live Oaks. lol This is the time when they will shed their leaves while growing new ones. They are never without leaves this way. But those of you with Live Oaks know the sheer volume of leaves produced by them can be overwhelming. It grows almost everywhere in this state. It is treasured not only because of its looks, but because it’s an evergreen and can be used as a year-round visual barrier. For 11 months a year, I love this tree. But during the month of March, the Live Oak molting season takes place. This is when the tree replaces each and every leaf. Slowly. Gradually. Over weeks. Live Oak leaves are not very large. They are rather small in comparison with other Oak leaves. Because of this, they are able to finagle their way into the darndest places. The molting usually takes about three weeks to complete, sometimes four weeks. It’s a frustrating experience because the leaves can pile up fast, especially if your Live Oaks are large and mature. It seems only hours after you’ve cleaned them all up, the leaves begin accumulating again. Nevertheless, it is very IMPORTANT that you keep the leaves picked up. They can become a fire hazard, clog up drains, provide habitat for emerging insects, and slow down the growth and emergence of lawn turf from dormancy. DO NOT BE TEMPTED! It sure looks like spring outside. Everything you see says “SPRING IS HERE.†However, it is March 1 as I type this. We’re not safe from freeze until April 1 here in North Texas, a little earlier farther south. Mark my words . . . old man winter will make a final appearance before he goes away. That said, do not be tempted to plant spring flowers early. One freeze and your investment is gone or severely damaged. Same goes for most veggies for you gardeners. Again, do not be tempted . . to fertilize your lawn until April 1 or after. While daytime temperatures may seem quite warm, we’re still having cool nights which can produce ideal conditions for fungus. When you add Nitrogen (from fertilizer) to that mix, the fungus goes crazy. So hold off if you can until that April 1 safe date. PREPARE THOSE BEDS NOW Right now is a great time to prepare your beds for spring plantings. Take your planting areas and remove what clay or undesirable soil you can and replace with compost and a planting mix containing some perlite. Many planting mixes contain tree material/waste that is not broken down. Once you plant using this mix, it will draw in nitrogen to help break down the tree waste in the planting mix. Unfortunately, this robs the plant of the valuable nutrient nitrogen. To counter this, mix healthy doses of compost into your planting mix so as to provide more nutrients to compensate for the loss of natural nitrogen. I highly recommend cotton burr compost but there are numerous types that are great to plant with. WHAT TO LOOK FOR Since everything seems to be coming out early this year, you’ll notice that the Redbud trees have already started or are finishing their blooming period. They are spectacular, are they not? I love them so much that I planted a Forest Pansy Redbud in my own landscape a while back. – Those of you who have redbuds that were planted in just the last year or so, yours may be a little later coming out (blooming) this year. The more mature ones are already going but the young ones are usually late. – We don’t have a lot of Cherry Trees in Texas, but they are blooming where you see them here and there. And they are just awesome, especially the weeping cherries. – The Texas Mountain Laurels, which grow naturally throughout Austin and the Hill Country, will be blooming early this year as well so don’t be surprised if they’re already going in the southern half of the state. They produce grape-like clusters of blooms that are medium blue in color. If you rub your hands on the blooms, they will smell like grapes. – I am seeing some Pear Trees start to bud out. I expect they’ll be in full display in the next few days. This is the time when you remember what a great idea it was to plant a Pear Tree. Believe it or not, I am hearing that Cannas are blooming in Houston right now. Thats crazy. While this is crazy warm weather, its not as strange as it has been in the past. DFW has seen 100 degree temperatures in February in the recent past. We didn’t even get close to that this year. A friend of mine who was a self-described “Texas climatologist†once told me that while we (Texas) may go long periods of time with either rain or drought, we almost always recover and it almost always comes in big doses that end up being damaging, i.e. floods after droughts, etc. While we’re not anywhere close to a drought right now, we have been rather dry for the past three months. I fear we’ll catch up fast within the next one or two.
  8. Most years there's always someone on both sides of the ball, sometimes more than one who exceeds expectations or progresses farther along than most thought possible. Who will those guys be this year? Malik Jefferson wasted no time in making his name known in the Big 12, but suffered somewhat of an off year last year. An emergence from that slump would be nice this year. This year I'm thinking Chris Warren picks up where Foreman left off. I saw some real magic when he ran the ball, before he was hurt. I think we'll see that again. And I think he has the coach who can make the splash even bigger. Johnson is in a peculiar spot this year. Two years in a row he's suffered injury so we really haven't been able to see more than a splash here and there from him. But we saw enough to know there's something special there. I think he's another candidate to have that break out year. How nice would it be if both he and Warren were to get it going at the same time? Defensively, Kris Boyd turns the corner this year. Call it a vibe I get. I just see maturity setting in a little which allows more of that talent to come through. Another candidate, IMO, is Anthony Wheeler. If the light turns on with regard to the Orlando scheme, I think Wheeler is poised to make a real impact. What say you?
  9. I sat down with mrs joeywa last night and watched Tower. It's a documentary about the 1966 tower shootings on the UT Campus. http://www.towerdocumentary.com/ If you have the time, I strongly suggest you watching it. Wow. From the story itself, (which I was already familiar with,) to the way it was filmed to include first hand accounts, actual footage mixed with animation, to the music and the interviews, this film was amazing. I watched the trailer above, and really questioned whether I'd like that type of format. I didn't just like it, I loved it. VERY well done.
  10. i think we already knew it http://realestate.usnews.com/places/rankings/best-places-to-live
  11. Ok, we have the head coach we think will take us to the promised land. Who will he hire to help get this team there? Early word I've heard is that Tim Brewster will be among the staff Herman brings in. That would be big, IMO. Does anyone else hope that Traylor is retained?????
  12. Beware the cold, dry winter! Weather has trended dry in much of Texas during December, with January the driest month still ahead One of the last things most folks want to think about during the month of January is their landscape. After all, it’s cold out there. lol . . well, sometimes it is. One of the things we have to look at each month is what the previous month brought us. The southeastern and northeastern parts of Texas received ample rainfall during December. The rest of the state did not. So much of Texas is a little dry right now. No big deal, right? It’s January, what can go wrong? January happens to be the driest month on the calendar. Its even more dry than the month of July albeit just slightly. So this can represent a problem for us coming off a very dry December. Compounding this problem is the fact that with these winter cold fronts that don’t have much moisture do have a lot of wind. So the landscape can get very dry and at risk during this month. For those of you who turned your sprinkler systems off before Christmas – get them turned back on. Program them for once a week at at least 15 minutes per zone (spray heads). If you do not have a freeze sensor included with your system, you’ll want to make sure you do not start a cycle or let a cycle run when its freezing weather. Dry turf, dry soil in freezing weather is a very bad set up. Small trees, your turf, your bedding plants can all suffer damage or death in this situation. Simply have wet soil can be the difference in life or death for your plants and trees. That said, if you have beds with desert plants such as yucca or cactus, you’ll want to avoid watering them at all during the winter. Their instincts cause them to soak up water as much as they can when water is made available. So we want to keep them dry as possible during freezing weather. We’ll get back to winter preparations later in this column. For now, lets move over to the bread and butter of January . . . . topdressings and aeration. Winter Topdressing and Aeration Sping and summer lawns are made – or not – during the late winter. Thats right. It all starts in January. What we do later this month will go far in how lawns perform over the season. Each year we perform lawn aeration and compost topdressings in late January and early February. In the past, we’ve used dairy cow manure compost to topdress our customers’ lawns. However, this year we’ll change over to Cotton Burr Compost instead. It is always good to mix up things rather than repeating the same things over and over. Cotton Burr Compost is an amazing product. Its loaded with nutrients, enzymes and microbes that are instrumental in turning an average lawn into an above average lawn. Its got that kind of impact. The product contains nothing but composted cotton plant waste so there’s no manure compost odor to deal with. Cotton Burr Compost also conditions and soften clay soils, which is especially helpful for homeowners in Texas where clay is so common. What is aeration and why do we combine it with topdressing? Aeration is where we use a machine and create thousands of little holes, approximately 4†in depth, in the lawn soil. This allows oxygen into the soil which revives it. It also allows organic matter, such as the topdressing, to filter into the soil. Remember, the more organic matter the better. By doing this in late winter, the nutrients will be in place right when they need to be – early spring, when the turf begins coming out of dormancy. First Pre Emergent Application of the Year We finish off our topdressing and aeration by applying the first round of pre emergent of the season. We get it down early so that its in place when weed seeds begin germinating in February. This in effect reduces the number of weeds in the lawn during the spring season. The only function pre emergent has is to sterilize soil. It does not kill weeds and will not prevent existing weeds from re-emerging from dormancy (such as crab grass will do). It will however prevent new weeds from forming from seed germination. When applied three to four times a year at strategic times, you create a cleaner lawn and less need of post emergent applications for weeds. The heavier the ratio, the more protection you will get for your lawn. So applying lightly will only have minimal effect on reducing weeds. You will want to get a product that continues to work for 60 to 90 days once applied. Remember to water it in immediately after you’ve applied. Winter Protection and Preparation In places as far north as Dallas-Ft Worth, winter weather will get so extreme that protecting some of the landscape becomes necessary. We like to use “freeze blankets†which are specifically made to protect plants and keep the temperature below the blanket a full five to seven degrees warmer. These blankets are easily installed in minutes. We use what are called “lawn staples†to help secure the blankets to the ground. However, it is also good to use heavy items such as small boulders to help anchor the blankets at the ground on each side of the shrub line. The blankets cover the shrubs and protect the foliage. Freeze blankets are made of synthetic material and will last several winters. There are many styles, including some long enough to cover sections of shrubs and others including one that will cover a single shrub. What do you need to protect? And for how long? When you know a cold front or winter storm is coming, install the freeze blankets. After the front has passed and when temperatures moderate again, remove them. You do not want them on the shrubs any longer than they have to be. You will want to pay special attention to covering shrubs on any north-facing landscape and to a lesser extent an east or west-facing landscape. Shrubs such as Pittisporums, Azaleas and even Boxwoods can suffer damage. So its best to get them covered and protected. Replenish Mulch After the leaves have been cleaned up a few times over the past month, you may have lost some of the mulch that has been protecting the plants in your bed and providing a nice look. Now would be a good time to get those beds replenished with mulch. If you have small weeds trying to come up, remember to remove them before you put down additional mulch. If you still have leaves accumulated in the beds or around the property, you need to remove those first. They are a fire hazard and are unsightly. If you can, compost them. If you’re not into that sort of thing, someone in your neighborhood probably is and would be glad to accept your organic waste donation to their compost. Off-Season Repairs Now is a great time to get your equipment out and make necessary repairs. Gas powered Blowers, weed-eaters, edgers and mowers will often need their plugs changed. Air filters should be changed. And change the oil. You should also remove and sharpen your mower blades at this time. If you’re not equipped to do this yourself, you can take them to your local mower shop and they will sharpen them for you at a nominal charge. You should sharpen your blades at least once a year and preferably twice a year (again at mid-season). Fill up your gas tanks with gas (or gas/oil mix if appropriate) and mix in a product called “Stabil†which will reduce or remove the chances of condensation forming inside the tank. Condensation leaves water in the fuel which causes poor performance. Crank up your equipment after making these maintenance repairs to make sure they operate properly.
  13. I have a few political insiders sources . . . telling me Texas-Ex, BMD and Exxon mogul Rex Tillerson is about to be named Secretary of State. He was interviewed by Trump and word is he knocked it out of the park. Hook'em!
  14. This is a new hype song for the '16 UT Longhorn Football team. Press play and share to get the fans and players pumped up! Hook 'Em Horns!
  15. What are these mushrooms in my lawn! One of the most common questions I get each growing season is “Help! I have mushrooms in my lawn! What do I do?†The answer – absolutely nothing. Or, if you’re like me, you’ll practice your field goal kicking skills with them. lol The appearance of mushrooms in your lawn is nothing to worry about. It means you have a lot of organic matter in your turf/soil, which is a very good thing. It also means that things became damp and probably overcast for a few days. When these conditions come together, the fungi in the soil will explode and grow into mushrooms. This can happen anywhere in the lawn, even in the middle of high sunlight areas. They’ll also appear near or on decaying trees, tree limbs, stumps, etc. These fungi are “good guys†in the lawn ecosystem. They break down organic matter into minerals and nutrients that your turf can then use. They’ll show up after a rainy spell or after laying new sod. They reproduce through spores, similar to seeds. The spores are released by the mushroom and then spread by wind or rain and drift elsewhere to start a new colony. There are several types of mushrooms and fungi growth that can appear in the lawn. There is the typical umbrella-shaped mushroom often called “Toadstool.†There’s also other types such as puffball, shaggy mane and Japanese parasol. The only concern I have with mushrooms is the possibility of children eating them. So while I say they are nothing to worry about, it’s a good idea to get rid of them once you see them. Lawn fungus, such as Take-All Patch, Brown Patch and DollarSpot, are a different type of fungus but can exist at the same time with mushrooms. Having mushrooms from time to time, however, does not mean you will get a lawn fungus. Chemical Treatments This Month You can pretty much set your watch by it, but any time we get a good rainfall in Texas during growing season, it is almost always followed up by a surge of weeds in the days following. So out the door we go and we’re either pulling weeds or spraying them. Any weeds growing within the boundaries of a flower bed or shrub bed should be removed by hand and not by chemical. A bordered bed is contained, so a rainfall or watering will dislodge the weed killing chemical and disperse it to locations in the bed that you never wanted it to go. The result is dead and dying flowers and shrubs. So just don’t go there. Pull them. In the lawn, however, it’s a different story. We can spray weeds and kill them without killing the desirable turf grass surrounding them. If you’ve been using SpeedZone to treat your lawn for weeds, you should now switch to Trimec instead. SpeedZone works great during cool weather, but will leave brown burn spots in the turf when temperatures become warm to hot. Grub control This year, May is the month when you want to apply a grub control to your lawn. I say “this year†because the winter we just had was hardly a winter at all. When that happens, grubs will gravitate closer to the soil surface sooner and begin feeding sooner. So instead of applying in early June as we normally do, we apply in early May to adjust to mother nature’s winter curveball. There is nothing you can do to stop grubs from being in your lawn. They begin as larvae laid approximately 5-6 inches beneath the soil surface (to avoid winter freezing). When spring arrives and temperatures warm, they begin creeping closer until finally they’re at grassroots depth and begin feeding. It is very difficult to kill grubs unless they are actively feeding/ingesting. This is a treatment that must happen each year. Cotton Burr Compost is a wonderful thing One organic product that has numerous beneficial uses in the landscape is Cotton Burr Compost. This product is a waste product of the cotton ginning process and includes the leaves, stems, seeds, and hulls from the Cotton plant. There are two types of Cotton Burr Compost sold. There is a regular version and an “Acidified†version which has sulfur added. Both make for ideal natural soil conditioners. Use in conjunction with a lawn aeration and/or as a topdressing to loosen up compacted black clay soils. You can neutralize soil pH using the regular version or increase soil pH using the acidified version. Cotton Burr Compost is an excellent food source for beneficial organisms in the soil which fight off bad bacteria and organisms and help make minerals and nutrients available to your turf. It also improve the soil’s water retention abilities. The acidic version can be used to treat lawn fungus, as the acid content kills the fungus. You can use around trees and in flowerbeds and shrub beds. Just lay down a layer over the soil prior to applying your mulch. One word of warning . . . it does have a stinky odor at first, but it dissipates after a few hours. Choosing the right plants May, along with April, is prime time planting season for most of Texas. Springtime weekend afternoons in the nursery can be a seductive experience. All the plants are looking their best and are in bloom. We end up wanting to buy a bunch of this and a bunch of that, but never really think about how it will perform in our own landscape’s conditions. For instance, Encore Azaleas can be mesmerizing in the nursery and it’s easy to take one home with you. In Texas, you simply have to keep azaleas on the east or north side of your home for best results. The south and west sides will be too hot and too overbearing for azaleas to be at their best. Lantana will grow most anywhere in Texas, but it needs all the Texas sun it can get. So plant them on the south or west side of your home. Things to consider when buying your plants: 1. Does the plant prefer full sun, partial sun or mostly shade? What does your landscape offer in comparison? 2. The general rule of thumb – more sun, more blooms. 3. What are the plant’s water requirements? If you’re under water restrictions, will your watering satisfy the plant? If you buy a Colorguard Yucca, do not plant it in a shady, wet environment. This is a desert plant and requires all the sun it can get. By contrast, a Japanese Maple cannot handle full day sun. Plant them in places where taller, surrounding trees will protect them. M for Mulch, M for May Regardless of whether or not you plant new plant material in May, it is the perfect month to mulch. In May, the Live Oaks have finished molting so the beds can be cleaned prior to mulching without fear of more dead Live Oak leaves falling. Don’t go cheap on the thickness, either. Apply at least 2-3 inches. Don’t go cheap on mulch. The phrase “you get what you pay for†applies here. “Shredded†mulch will be slightly more expensive than ordinary mulch because of the extra time required to shred it. However, it will perform better with less float. Cedar Mulch is a great choice for the homeowner who wants a little pest deterrent with their mulch. Cedar is a natural pest deterrent and provides a great aroma. It also has a nice, reddish brown color. Common hardwood mulch, when shredded, is about as good as it gets. It is less expensive and has great, natural brown to dark brown color. Cypress mulch isn’t as common as the others, but is widely available and has some nice features. Cypress mulch also has pest deterrent properties, has a nice, bleached look that stands out. It is also less likely to float. It is not okay to mulch using the waste from a stump grinder. In many cases, the waste is coming from what was a living tree. That waste, while it looks like mulch, will begin decomposing and composting and will be a moisture hog, sucking up moisture instead of retaining it. Decomposition will also create heat, further exacerbating the problem. I’ll open things up for questions now. I’ll answer whatever you got!
  16. April is here and it marks the real beginning of spring. It is indeed one of the busiest months on the calendar for landscapers and is an exciting time of year to be outside. Let’s jump right into this as there is much to talk about this month. FERTILIZATION Go ahead and plan to fertilize now that April is here. A couple of notes for you folks out there staring at the Home Depot and Lowes shelves wondering what to buy. If you have St Augustine turf, you want to buy a fertilizer or weed/feed product that is designed for use in St Augustine turf. You folks who have Zoysia or Centipede lawns, you will want to buy the St Augustine turf products as they are also safe and effective on your turf. This is important because the weed killing ingredients in Bermuda weed/feeds will have adverse effects and/or kill a St Augustine/Zoysia/Centipede lawn. I’ve tried a lot of products in my time and the one I keep coming back to on the St Augustine side is Fertilome’s St Augustine Weed & Feed. It’s a slow release product that employs a high grade of Atrazine (the weed killing ingredient) and a touch of acidic content that St Augustine loves. I’ve found Scott’s BonusS to be a bit harsh. Do not apply a weed/feed that says (on the label) that it can be applied to ANY turf grass. The weed killing capability in these products is practically non-existent. St Augustine turf, along with Zoysia and Centipede, do not respond well to fertilizer products that are high in nitrogen. All fertilizer products have a three-number sequence that informs the buyer of the type of fertilizer inside. The first number in the sequence is always nitrogen. St Augustine responds best to fertilizer products that are 15-20 nitrogen and no higher. Products specific to St Augustine turf will have the 15-20 nitrogen content. Those of you who have Bermuda turf, again you want to buy a fertilizer or weed/feed product that is made specifically for Bermuda. Avoid applying products that are made for St Augustine as they will have an adverse effect on Bermuda. Bermuda is also a turf that responds best to a higher nitrogen fertilizer, anywhere from 25 to 33 on the nitrogen. I’ve found on the retail side that Scott’s Turfbuilder is about as good as they come. There are several variations of Turfbuilder so make sure you’re only buying the version that has both fertilizer and weed killer included. Avoid buying the version with the insect killer included. No matter what type of turf grass you have, read the label before you apply. Many fertilizer products will list a number of spreaders on the market on the back of the bag and will include the appropriate spreader settings for you to go by. Make sure you water immediately after applying your fertilizer. Make sure to clean out your spreader after use using a water hose. Spray it down inside and out to remove the fertilizer residue that would otherwise deteriorate the plastic/metal on the spreader. HEADS UP! SNAKES! As you go back into the garden and landscape this month, make sure you look before you step, look before you reach. Snakes are out of hibernation and are moving about. The mild winter will surely have their numbers up this year. Our crews typically run into one or two per week during the peak season. However, we're already seeing that number despite it being early spring. SPRING FLOWERS I am often asked what the key to success is for having beautiful spring flowers. They all look so nice when they’re in the nursery waiting to be sold. But sometimes we get them home and a couple weeks later they begin declining. So for me, the secret (if there is one) is soil preparation. Most spring flowers do not do well in our black clay soils. We have to manipulate the planting soil by mixing our native soil with other soil products, such as planting mixes, compost, and mineral supplements such as Muriate of Potash. You start by breaking up the native soil, the first 3-4 inches. Then add planting mix, compost, other ingredients that you might prefer. Mix them together well, making sure that your end result is a thick, fluffy, soil mix that rises above the surrounding soil area to provide drainage for your flowers. Once completed, you can plant. Water immediately after planting. Some popular choices for annual flowers are Petunias, Begonias, Perriwinkles (vinca), Impatiens, etc. In Texas, Petunias will most often peak out by early summer and begin decline. The “Wave†Petunias will make it through a Texas summer, however. Begonias and Perriwinkles provide great staying power and blooming all summer as well. Perennial flowers are also a popular choice for many gardeners. These types will return each year after winter dormancy. There are so many perennials that do well in Texas, there are too many to list. But some popular choices include Day lilies, Gerber Daisies, Shasta Daisies, Black Foot Daisies, Purple Salvia, Autumn Sage, Homestead Verbena and Lantana. Perennials will endure Texas heat and sun much more effectively than your annual flowers. MOWING SEASON BEGINS! Before you give that mower its first crank of the season, make sure you’ve checked it over and provided proper maintenance. A homeowner’s mower should have its oil changed at least once a season. You should also change your spark plug and air filter (if applicable) at this time. And finally, you should sharpen the blade on your mower. If you don’t know how to do these tasks, you can have a lawnmower shop do it for you. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of having a sharp mower blade. A dull blade will “tear†grass instead of cutting it, causing stress to the plant which can be enhanced by other stresses such as heat and lack of water. A sharp blade “cuts†the grass and the plant is able to heal itself faster and more efficiently. If possible, water the lawn after mowing. When you cut your lawn, the cut causes a wound to the grass. Watering the lawn helps speed up recovery and maintains growth. Homeowners who mow their own lawns will typically fall into a repetitive mowing routine, meaning, they will mow the same way, same direction each time they mow. It’s actually better for your lawn if you will mix that up, reversing the way you mow every other time, mowing diagonally and then reverse diagonally and then crossing the entire lawn back and forth are some options for your mowing routine. All provide a nice, unique and clean look to your lawn. For now while we’re in Spring, it’s fine to keep your mower height short. But as temperatures rise, so should your mower blade. By June, your mower blade should be set on a 3.5†cut, especially if you have St Augustine turf. We’ll go into the benefits of high turf/high temperatures later. For now, keeping the lawn short through end of April will help heat up the soil and root zone and spur growth and further emergence from dormancy. Copper Canyon Daisy in full bloom. PLANT OF THE MONTH! The Copper Canyon Daisy While not native to Texas, the Copper Canyon Daisy ((Tagetes Lemmonii)) performs like it was meant for this state and it’s often harsh climate conditions. A native of northern Mexico and named for Copper Canyon there, this plant is so drought tolerant it could almost live without water. It is a tough plant that will grow in thin or poor soils and once established requires no watering or fertilizer. While it’s flowering habit is truly a spectacle in Fall, one of its attributes is the aromatic scent its foliage provides. It smells much like spearmint and is as strong as rosemary. They will grow 3-ft high and up to 5-6 ft wide. This plant blooms when the days are shorter, so look for its show in spring and fall – but particularly fall. The flowers become so abundant that you can’t see the plant’s leaves. It prefers full sun but will grow in partial shade. It is also known by other names such as Mt. Lemmon marigold, mountain marigold, and Mexican bush marigold. It is named for John Gill Lemmon and his wife Sara, who collected the plant in southeastern Arizona in the early 1880s. Descendants of plants the Lemmons took to California were introduced into the nursery trade.
  17. Here's President Fenves' statement: https://news.utexas.edu/2016/04/05/statement-on-body-found-on-campus
  18. Longhorn Nation: Here at the University of Texas at Austin, a group of highly motivated, proud Longhorns are seeking to start an official University of Texas Longhorn Olympic Weightlifting Team that will compete for championships, nationally, internationally, and at the Olympics. UT has produced Olympians in Track and Field, Swimming and Diving, and has sent an astonishing number of first-class Longhorns into professional sports competition, world-wide. There is simply no earthly reason that the University of Texas at Austin should not DOMINATE Olympic Weightlifting. A donation would be greatly appreciated as it would help provide UT with the requisite resources to fund and support a Longhorn Olympic Weightlifting Team that would be sure to obliterate competition, across the United States of America. Support your 'Horns. Hook 'EM! ALL Donations Fund: -Coaching -Equipment -Travel Expenses -Competition Entry Fees -International Weightlifting Federation Membership -USA Weightlifting Membership -National Weightlifting Domination
  19. I came to The University of Texas in 1964 on a recruiting trip for the Texas Football team, which was then under legendary coach Darrell K Royal. As I watched Coach Royal’s team practice that day in Gregory Gym, I could feel the electricity from the players and coaches. It’s a feeling I’ve never forgotten, and I doubt I ever will. The teamwork, enthusiasm, pride, integrity and dedication that extends across the Forty Acres have kept my wife and me involved with The University of Texas long after we were students. It is with great joy that I now return to serve as the Interim Texas Men’s Athletics Director. Times are changing for college athletics. I will work to keep up with these changes while being true to our great traditions and serving our student-athletes. I have met with our coaches and staff, and I stand firmly behind them. We are all dedicated to maintaining the integrity of this university. I am so excited to meet with our student-athletes and work with them. There is no finer opportunity for them than to be at The University of Texas and to learn from engaged faculty, coaches and support staff. My experience as a student-athlete has stayed with me throughout. I hope to utilize that perspective during my time here. Now, I ask you all to support our student-athletes by attending our events. It is so important for our student-athletes to have a full house when they play. A large crowd produces an infectious energy that motivates our student-athletes and coaches to perform at the highest level. I hope to see many of you Saturday at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium when our Texas Football team takes on Oklahoma State. And if you see me, I encourage you to say hi and introduce yourself. The seriousness of the job I’ve been asked to do is very important to me. In the coming months, I am excited to deepen many of my relationships and forge new ones. Let’s continue to work together and make Texas Athletics great. Hook 'em, Horns! Mike Perrin Interim Texas Men's Athletics Director
  20. UT athletics just released major news. Long-time SID John Bianco is leaving "to pursue other interests"
  21. Courtesy of UT Athletics: AUSTIN, Texas — The University of Texas athletic programs once again have their annual set of data to prove the Longhorns are advancing toward their ultimate goal – to graduate all student-athletes. UT surpassed the required NCAA standard in all 20 of its intercollegiate athletics sport programs, according to the multi-year NCAA Division I Academic Progress Rate (APR) released on Wednesday. “Academic excellence continues to be a hallmark of Texas Athletics programs, and we’re pleased to see the progress toward graduation all our student-athletes are making,” said Texas Men’s Athletics Director Steve Patterson. Last week, seven University of Texas teams (baseball, men’s basketball, men’s tennis, women’s basketball, women’s cross country, women’s swimming and diving and volleyball) received public recognition awards for their latest APR. That total led all Big 12 Conference institutions and was tied for ninth nationally among all College Football Playoff universities. Football’s rating of 958 is the team’s best multi-year mark since the NCAA began releasing the APR in 2004-05. It is 11 points higher than last year’s mark. The APR provides a real-time look at a team’s academic success by tracking the academic progress of each student-athlete during the school year. The APR accounts for eligibility, retention and graduation in the calculation and provides a measure of each team’s academic performance. This APR is based on data submitted by the institution for the 2010-11, 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years. The University of Texas Academic Progress Rate Men’s Programs: (Multi-year APR Baseball: 995 Basketball: 1,000 Cross Country: 959 Football: 958 Golf: 987 Swimming and Diving: 984 Tennis: 1,000 Track, Indoor: 985 Track, Outdoor: 987 Women’s Programs: (Multi-year APR) Basketball: 996 Cross Country: 1,000 Golf: 992 Rowing: 995 Soccer: 991 Softball: 996 Swimming and Diving: 1,000 Tennis: 983 Track, Indoor: 986 Track, Outdoor: 986 Volleyball: 1,000

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