Posts by Steve Arnold
Two of the most frequently asked questions in gardening and landscaping are: how do I prune my shrubs and trees and when should I prune them? The answer depends greatly upon the kind of tree of shrub being pruned.
While there are differences, for every kind of plant there are some general guidelines that you can use to aide in pruning trees and shrubs successfully.
When Should You Prune?
The best time to prune your plants depends on what time of the year the plant blooms. Ask yourself: Does the plant bloom in spring or does it bloom in summer?
If it blooms in spring, then it is flowering on old wood and you can prune right after flowering is complete. This allows the plant to generate new growth and buds over the summer in preparation for next year.
If it blooms in the summer, then it is flowering on new wood (like crape myrtles) and you should prune during the dormant season (late winter) or in the early spring before new growth appears.
Flowering times are good general guidelines for most plants, but there are some exceptions. If there is a branch that needs removed because it is causing an issue – then it can be cut out as necessary. Dead limbs and branches can be pruned out anytime to clean up the tree’s appearance. Avoid pruning plants in late fall, since that can trigger new growth which will not have time to harden off before frosts come.
How to Prune
When pruning trees and shrubs, find which direction the dormant buds are pointing. The dormant buds will sprout new branches which will grow in the direction that they are pointing. Prune above the bud in the direction of where you want the new branch to grow.
The shape of the plant can be easily controlled with careful, well placed cuts. It is also beneficial to direct the plant growth toward the outside canopy of the plant.
While pruning, be sure to move several steps away from the tree to observe how the tree is shaped and to observe the big picture effect of your work.
Always try to make angled cuts that slant away from the plant. A flat cut will allow moisture to sit on top of the branch, which can introduce fungal diseases and may cause rotting. This becomes even more important when pruning out large limbs, as there is more exposed wood.
If you have branches that cross and rub against each other – remove one or both as necessary to prevent bark damage and possible pathogens. Never remove more than 1/3 of a tree or shrub at one time; Cutting back too much growth all at once can cause serious issues for the plant.
Suckers can be removed anytime they grow: Suckers are the small branches that sprout from the root crown of the plant. If not removed, they will sap the growth from the rest of the tree.
Dealing with Diseased Plants
Keep a sharp eye out for diseases as you prune your plants. If you suspect that a disease may be present, clean the pruning tools with a 10% solution of bleach and 90% water in between each cut to help prevent the spread of the disease with your tools.
Cut back the diseased limbs several inches into healthy tissue to be sure that all the diseased tissue has been removed, then dispose of the diseased wood.
After you finish pruning for the day, clean your tools before putting them away so that they will be ready to go for next time! It is very easy for plant diseases to spread from one plant to another – so take care when pruning plants that are infected.
Pruning trees and shrubs incorrectly is rarely fatal for a plant and isn’t something the homeowner should fear. Keep these simple pruning guidelines in mind and your plants will grow strong for many years to come!
With high temperatures averaging in the upper 80s in both July and August, keeping your Fescue lawn green and healthy in Middle Tennessee can be a challenge.
Proper watering is key to maintaining a vibrant, healthy lawn. But how much water does a lawn require? How often does it need to be watered? Is there anything else that can be done besides watering?
Here are answers to 7 of the most commonly asked questions regarding summer lawn watering.
How much water does my lawn need?
The University of Tennessee Extension Service recommends between 1 -1.5 inches of water each week, or 630 to 945 gallons of water per 1,000 square feet of lawn space.
When is the best time for me to water my lawn?
The earlier, the better, according to the University of Tennessee Extension Service. By watering in the morning, you can avoid some of the rapid evaporation that would happen later in the day as the temperatures rise.
Do I need to water my lawn every day?
In most cases, no. Ideally a lawn should be watered around three times each week. It’s always better to water infrequently, but water thoroughly each time you do. A light, shallow watering every day can result in a lawn with shallow roots.
If you use an automatic watering system, be sure to keep in mind the impact of rainfall – especially if you don’t have a rain sensor. (A rain sensor is designed to suspend or interrupt automatic watering when the rainfall total reaches a specified amount.) If the rainfall was adequate, you may be able to skip a scheduled watering.
Or, if rain is forecasted later in the week, consider skipping one of your regular waterings. If the rain doesn’t fall – which, honestly, happens quite frequently around Middle Tennessee – you can make up the watering later in the week. (Your safest bet? Don’t bank on the rain. Water anyway, then reduce later according to rainfall.)
How do I know if my lawn needs to be watered?
Look for footprints. Yes, really. If someone walks across your lawn and the grass doesn’t spring back up – resulting in a lingering indented footprint in the lawn – then it could use some watering.
Is there anything else I need to take into consideration when it comes to watering?
If your lawn has other landscaping elements that feature trees, flowers, and other plants and vegetation, be sure to know the watering requirements of each. There may be some plants that need to be watered daily; others may only need a couple of waterings each week. In cases like these, a one-size-fits-all watering plan may not be sufficient.
What other things should I do to keep my lawn healthy through a hot summer?
In the summer months, apply a low-nitrogen fertilizer with post-emergent weed control. If you’re spraying broadleaf weed killer on your lawn, be careful when temperatures climb above 80 degrees, as you may damage or even kill the Fescue as well.
Be sure to not heavily water your lawn immediately after applying the granular fertilizer – the last thing you want to do is wash away all of those nutrients! Water gently, instead. As the summer fades into fall, aerate and overseed your lawn in October to help repair your lawn after a hot summer.
I’m building a new home (or resodding my existing lawn). Is there a particular type of sod that I should use to withstand the summer elements?
If you don’t mind a dormant (brown) lawn in the winter and you have full sun exposure on your lawn areas, try using Zoysia or Bermuda sod for new lawns. They’re both much more drought tolerant than Fescue and hold up to foot traffic much better.
Keep all of these tips in mind over the next two months to help keep your Fescue lawn green and healthy this summer.
Your landscaping is complete and your yard looks fabulous! Now, how do you keep your mulch in place? And how do you create separation between your landscaping bed and lawn?
Our standard bed edge is shovel-cut. We take a flat edging shovel and cut a straight edge down into the soil. The edge is created at an angle that slopes back into the bed space and helps retain the mulch.
But if you’re looking for something a bit more decorative to complement the shovel-cut edging, adding borders can be a nice touch.
There are multitudes of decorative border options available at a wide variety of price points. Choosing an edging that suits the architecture of your home, your personality, and the topography of your lawn can add that extra touch to your landscaping.
Here are 10 traditional – and not-so-traditional – decorative edging options to consider.
A very common landscaping border, bricks can be easy to install, depending on your chosen pattern. Consider using reclaimed brick from around your home or asking a contractor for remaining bricks from a previous project to not only add variety but aid in keeping your costs down. If you’re not looking for a traditional horizontal layout, try angling your bricks into the ground.
2. Metal Strips
If you’re looking for edging that disappears into the rest of your yard, consider using 4-inch deep metal strips. They’re most commonly made from steel, aluminum, or even plastic. While not flashy, metal strips do the job in helping to maintain the clean lines between the landscaped area and your lawn.
Quite possibly the easiest to install, concrete or brick pavers are a very efficient way to add a border to your landscaping. We recommend a compacted gravel base for your pavers to ensure long-term stability, especially if you plan on stacking pavers to create a short retaining wall. Also, depending on the width of your paver, your new edging could double as a walkway as well.
There are lots of different options when it comes to stone edging. Stacked flagstone is sleek and elegant. Large rocks can look very natural and add personality by varying the sizes used. Smaller cobblestones and river rocks have a nice visual appeal.
Probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about edging your garden, but there are a couple of different options involving pipe. Cut steel pipes placed vertically in a fence-like pattern can not only add beauty, but depending on the size of the pipe used can serve as small planters. Or, consider having some copper piping bent into the shape of your landscaping beds.
6. Other Plants
Consider placing small shrub-like plants or herbs directly along the edge of the garden to create a clean line. This also works well in conjunction with the aforementioned metal strips.
Need a new idea for wine bottles? Turn them upside down and use them as garden edgers! Clear and brown glass can make a subtle impact while blue or green bottles can add a serious pop of color and a whole lot of personality to your yard.
8. Flower Pots
Have a bunch of flower pots in your garage or shed? Instead of planting all of them – which is the reason why they’re in storage to begin with, right? – turn them upside down and place them along the edges of your landscaping. They can easily be removed before winter and returned to storage – or maybe seeing them in your yard will inspire you to plant them again!
9. Reclaimed Wood
Try painting some reclaimed or scrap wood in a variety of colors. Then, cut the wood into pieces of various heights and insert them fence-style to edge your garden. It’s inexpensive and can really add character. Cedar would be ideal, if possible.
Similar to the reclaimed wood, cut bamboo to various heights and insert vertically along the edges of your landscaping.
Whether you desire a sleek and traditional look for your lawn – or something a bit more quirky and fun – one of these landscape edging ideas should work for you. If you’re looking for additional ideas, check out our gallery or ask us for suggestions. We’d be happy to work with you to find a decorative edging idea that suits your style.
It was a pretty tough winter on lawns in the Nashville area. We’ve seen fairly significant damage to turf, as well as perennials, shrubs and trees. The good news is that spring is here and Perfect World can get your lawn and landscape looking great again. Mowing season starts again very soon and winter weeds like Henbit, Chickweed and Dandelion are already growing like crazy.
April is National Lawn Care Month and not a moment too soon. If you want a high quality lawn, whether it’s Fescue, Bermuda or Zoysia, you just about have to get it on a regular fertilization and weed control program to keep it looking great. There are organic options available too.
We recommend setting your lawn up with 5-8 applications a year depending on the type of lawn. Fescue lawns should be seeded at least every fall to keep them full and lush. While fall is the best time of year for lawn renovations, spring is a great time too. We’ve been seeing many lawns that could use both a spring and a fall aeration and seeding this year.
Let us know how we can help you with your lawn.
We provide many different lawn maintenance services in Nashville such as:
- string trimming,
- weed control,
- slit seeding,
- core aeration,
We can also help you decide if that lawn trouble spot over there in the shade is worth all the effort and expense of trying to grow grass somewhere it doesn’t naturally want to. Nature may be suggesting a bed space or another approach to achieve your goal.
Below are some interesting lawn stats provided by The Professional Landcare Network touting the benefits of a healthy lawn. I’d like to take it a step further and suggest that a healthy landscape of trees and shrubs, which also may include a lawn, are very important to the environment.
- There are more than 30 million acres of lawns in the United States.
- A healthy lawn (and landscape) is of utmost importance to the environment. A 50′ by 50′ lawn produces enough oxygen for a family of four.
- Lawns (trees and shrubs) cool the atmosphere. Eight healthy front lawns have the cooling effect of 70 tons of air conditioning which is enough for 16 average homes.
- Dense, healthy grass slows water runoff, removing contaminants and trapping soil. Fresh filtered water returns to the underground water supply.
- Grass (trees and shrubs) convert carbon dioxide to oxygen, a process that helps clean the air.
- Well-cared for lawns (and landscapes) can significantly increase property value.
- In addition to it’s positive environmental impacts, a healthy lawn (and landscape) can also make a home more marketable.
- Well maintained lawns and landscapes can add up to 15% to a property’s value.
We’ve been experiencing some very cold winter weather, with lots of frost or freeze damage possible in January. The difference between frost damage and freeze damage is that frost damage in plants results from the water in the cells forming sharp ice crystals and rupturing the cell walls. When the tissue thaws out, the water in the cells drains out through the new holes and the tissue dries out. Freeze damage occurs when temperatures sustain at 32 degrees or below and is progressive within plants. But, freeze damage to tender plants may occur much sooner. The softest tissues like leaves and tender new shoots are hurt first. Tougher stem tissue and buds down from the tips endure less damage, but are not immune if the temperatures are lower and the duration is longer, like it has been here in Middle Tennessee. Limp, dry and brownish leaves damaged by frost easily stand out, however damage to stems and buds can remain hidden for several months.
With extremely low temperatures a plants survival may depend on their stage of growth and development. Low temperatures cause far more damage than high temperatures. Temperatures below freezing can kill buds on fruit trees and damage the succulent twigs of most trees. Low winter temperatures may kill young tree roots or cause bark splitting and canker development. The degree of chilling and frost injuries depends on the duration of the cold temperatures and how fast the temperature dropped.
The extent of damage to plants depends on several factors including:
* Types of plant – Tropical plants have few internal protection mechanisms against freezing temperatures. Semi-tropical plants can handle temperatures slightly below freezing.
* Where it was propagated or its origin – Climate zone.
* Plant maturity and health – Perennial plants can withstand much lower temperatures once they are well established than when they were first planted. Generally, older more mature plants can typically tolerate freezing temperatures better than juvenile plants
* Fertilizing practices – Borderline plants may survive low temperatures if they are not pruned or fertilized with nitrogen after about August.
* Presence of late summer growth – Pruning may stimulate late growth and the new growth will not have time to harden off before the first frost
* The lowest air temperature achieved – Usually air temperatures decrease as the nights grow longer. If temperatures drop below freezing for a very short period of time, damage to tender plants is typically minimal. If the same temperature is reached, but maintained for several hours, freeze damage to plants is more severe.
* The month of the year freezing temperatures occurs – Freezing temperatures occurring early in the fall or late in the spring are usually more damaging to plants than freezing temperatures in mid-winter.
This January we had eight days where the actual high temperature was below normal and five of those days, the actual high was below our average low temperature for that day. We had twenty-two days with below average low temperatures and sixteen of those days the actual low temp was 10 or more degrees below average.
The good news is that spring is just around the corner. Take comfort in the fact that your trusted Nashvillle landscaping company, Perfect World Landscapes, LLC, is here. Once spring arrives, we’ll survey your landscaping with our many years of experience and vast plant knowledge and we’ll get your landscape just right!
I worked with our mowing crew most of this spring. It’s a physically demanding job that requires strength, stamina and patience. Our mowing crew traverses every square foot of your yard while mowing, string trimming and blowing. I wore a digital pedometer this spring and it calculated that I walked an average of about 12 miles a day (almost a half marathon each day) while walking behind a mower, carrying an 11.5 pound string trimmer and wearing a 23.3 pound backpack blower.
It’s really very easy for us to get hot, sweaty and dirty even when the temperatures are cooler in spring. Let the humidity and temperature move into more summery conditions and it’s like working in a sauna all day long. We get covered in dirt and debris thrown and blown from our equipment and it all sticks to our sweaty clothes and skin. Grass clippings, leaves, dirt, dust, poison ivy… you name it and we’ve been covered with it.
Unfortunately sometimes our equipment, clothing and skin have a run in with dog poop. There’s not much of a way around it when you’re walking every square foot of a lawn. Even if there’s just a little in the yard, we’ll find it. When there’s a lot in the yard, it gets gross. Throw a string trimmer’s spinning string into the mix and you have potential for an unhealthy and very unpleasant situation. It’s one thing to step in dog poop or run a mower tire over it. You can rinse off the bottom of your work boot or spray off the tire, but when a string trimmer finds hidden treasure, that dog poop is splattered onto your skin and clothes before you have a chance to let off the throttle to avoid disaster.
Wearing Eau de Doggie Doo all day isn’t much fun at all. Don’t get me wrong, we love dogs. I have two Akitas and I pick up after them pretty much every day. No, it’s not much fun to do, but it’s better than leaving a stinky surprise for my kids, wife or anyone else that comes into our backyard. We pick up after our dogs on walks too. We carry plastic bags with us for the task to keep our neighborhood a safer place to walk. There’s actually a Metro Nashville ordinance regarding dog poop on public property or private property that is not owned by the dog owner.
8.04.180 – Removal of excrement. A dog owner shall clean up and remove any excrement left by his or her dog(s) on any public property or private property not owned or lawfully possessed by the dog owner. Violations of this section shall be punishable by a fifty-dollar fine. (Amdt. 1 with Ord. BL2004-302 § 1, 2004)
Dog poop is not fertilizer and should never be used as such. Harmful organisms in dog poop can be transmitted from pet waste to children and adults. Fecal coliform and other bacteria found in dog waste can make people sick, leading to breathing problems, diarrhea, blindness and worse.
If you don’t have time, desire or the stomach to pick up after your dogs in your yard, there are local companies that specialize in doing that unpleasant task for you. Your family, friends, neighbors and everyone else that visits your property will thank you!