Dormant Oil Application in October: Protection from Insect Damage for your Landscape Trees & Shrubs

Dormant Oil is a known application that is sprayed on landscape trees and shrubs in fall to help protect them from overwinter damage from insects. Prepared from a mixture of highly refined petroleum oils combined with an emulsifying agent, dormant oil can be mixed with water and sprayed on trees killing exposed insects and mites by either suffocating them or destroying internal cells. These oils are effective in controlling most species of scales and mites that overwinter as nymphs or adults such as cottony maple scale, obscure scale, euonymus scale and lecanium scale which can do early damage. Dormant Oil is also effective on insect eggs that are laid in September and overwinter such as aphids, leafrollers, Spruce Spider Mite, Honeylocust Mite and European Red Mite. Dormant Oils are effective for both immediate and preventive care and have been developed to be less harmful to beneficial insects.   They are also safe for birds, humans and other mammals.

dormant oil
UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program

When to Apply:  Dormant oil applications should be applied in fall when temperatures remain in the 50’s at night (Early October) and must be done when temperatures stay above freezing for 24 hours. Dormant Oil is also best applied on a clear day with no wind and no threat of rain within a least six hours so that the oil can dry.  It is preferable to choose a time when no rain is in the forecast for a few days to ensure effectiveness.

Warnings:  Be sure to follow all label directions because oil sprays may damage certain plants, including Japanese maple, Eastern Redbud, sugar maple and Amur maple.  It can also cause the foliage (needles) of Colorado blue spruce to become discolored (change from blue to green) since the pigment is formed from the oils on the surface of the plant.  When in doubt consult with your landscape professional.

Dormant Oil when applied correctly will help to protect your trees and shrubs from winter and early spring harm from a variety of damaging insects and will ensure the health and vitality of your landscaping.

For more information on dormant oil application visit:  Colorado State University horticulture Insect Control

As Always..Happy Gardening!

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Browning and Needle Shed on Evergreens in the fall: A Natural Process

If your evergreen’s inner needles are suddenly turning from a healthy looking green to shades of yellow, orange and brownish-red in late summer and fall there is little need for concern…it is all part of a natural process. Each year evergreens will produce new foliage in spring and they prepare by shedding their older foliage in the previous late summer and fall. Shedding of needles and foliage is a natural process that evergreens go through as a way of preparing for new growth once the weather warms.  As the days become shorter and temperatures lower evergreens go through a slight dormant period similar to deciduous trees and shrubs. Many evergreens such as pine, cedar, Chamaecyparis (Hinoki Cypress), Thuja (Arborvitae), fir, hemlock and spruce lose some of their needles every year and may go through a major shedding every three to five years.

fall foliage shed on evergreens
Fall Needle Shed on Hinoki Cypress and White Pine in late September-November-Shedding can be light or more pronounced. Lightly shaking the branches can help along the natural cleaning process.

To examine, look at your tree carefully.  Older foliage is shed first so the losses should generally be from the inside out and not at the tips.  Prior to shedding the needles appear from green to yellow, orange and eventually brown, remaining on the tree until the process is complete.  The actual amount of needle shed on the tree or shrub varies depending on the growing season, temperature changes and amount of rainfall, and can sometimes be sudden.  Often the change is unnoticeable but generally the drier the season or more drastic the temperature change the more noticeable the needle shed, a natural cleaning process leading to new growth in the spring.

needle shed fall
 Fall Needle Shed on Evergreens Showing Previous Year’s Growth.  Older Growth is closer towards trunk.

Other species of evergreens in the broadleaf category can also shed their leaves.  Evergreens such as holly and laurel retain their leaves for only one year and rhododendron and azalea for one to two years.  Leaves will appear yellow before falling but at some times may go unnoticed if new leaves conceal old foliage.  This process usually occurs in spring when new growth is appearing but can happen at other times of the year as well.  If the whole tree or entire sections of your conifer are turning brown then there is cause for concern and you should have a certified arborist or landscape professional examine it.  Otherwise, fall yellowing or browning at the base or inner branches closer to the trunk seldom indicates a serious problem, but is more often part of the natural life cycle of the tree.

needle shed
Conifer Annual Needle Shed

For more gardening tips Visit my Author Page

A Guide to Northeastern Gardening: Journeys of a Garden Designer  Landscape Design Combinations
Dream, Garden, Grow!-Musings of a Lifetime Gardener

 Author:  Lee@Landscape Design By Lee, 2014, All Rights Reserved

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Late Summer Garden Rejuvenation: Get More Blooms from Your Dayliles

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Late Summer Garden Rejuvenation

It has been a busy Sunday afternoon in August with the summer temperatures starting to cool and a cooler than usual September in the forecast.  I took the time today to give the garden a face lift and rejuvenate some of my fading perennials. By the time late July and August roll around various perennials are starting to show signs of fall mode with yellowing and dying foliage as they are starting to go dormant.  Perennials such as daylily go dormant at the end of summer into fall but there are methods to extend the bloom time right into mid to late September.  With certain species of long blooming daylily such as ‘Stella D Oro’ there is a trick I learned initially by accident.

daylily rejuvenation
Daylily Rejuvenation-Growth Going Dormant

I had some late summer garden maintenance done a few years ago and the crew had cut the yellowing daylilies back to about four inches from the ground.  At first I was taken by surprise but within a couple of weeks I had brand new vibrant green foliage and blooms that lasted well into fall. From that time on I continued to follow this ritual of cutting back my lilies starting at the end of July and into mid-August so that I could enjoy constant blooms.  The procedure is quite simple and I stage the rejuvenation at different times for the various locations of lilies in my garden.  Starting at the end of July and into late August I carefully remove expired yellowed foliage on my perennial daylilies down to new growth which is approximately four to five inches above the ground.   I actually perform this by hand but you can also use pruning shears and if there are any blooms on the plant you can leave them to enjoy. This ritual of removing dead foliage stimulates the plant to produce healthy new leaves and blooms and also prevents the onset of fungal disease that can occur at this time of year with decaying foliage.

Late Summer Garden Rejuvenation of Daylilies
Late Summer Garden Rejuvenation of Daylilies-Just Cut Back

I also remove the expired scapes (bloom bearing stalks) from the plants as soon as they turn brown throughout the entire season which stimulates new blooms.  The photograph on the left shows how the stalks should appear when you remove them. It is easy to know when this should be done since the stalks with seed heads will very easily pull out without any effort.  The photograph on the right shows newly cut foliage right after rejuvenation. Once your daylilies are cut back be sure they continue to receive watering.   In no time you will have plants that appear as they do in early spring bursting with beautiful new growth and flowers. Once the plants have had their final bloom into the fall allow the foliage to die completely back and then remove any decaying debris from around the plant and apply a thin layer of mulch.

rejuvenated 1 month ago
Rejuvenated Daylily After One Month

This method also works with other varieties of daylily with a shorter bloom time such as ‘Pardon Me’ and ‘Sammy Russell’ but should be performed in July after these plants are done blooming. Other perennials such a Salvia also benefit from a mid-late summer pruning which is explained in this article.  If you are looking to extend the enjoyment of your summer garden rejuvenation is a simple and quick process well worth the time for it will prolong your enjoyment of blooms well into fall.

As Always…Happy Gardening!

 Author:  Lee@Landscape Design By Lee, 2014, All Rights Reserved

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Guest Post: Top tips for getting your lawn looking just like new

Top tips for getting your lawn looking just like new3One of the most important parts of any gardening plan is to make sure that the lawn is looking at its best. A good-looking lawn means that the main and most visible part of the garden is always looking at its best and that you are doing your utmost to keep everything looking great. The grassed area of the garden is the one which is most visible and one which most people will notice first. For those who are intent on getting your grass looking at its best, there are a number of ways in which you can ensure that your lawn restoration and repair needs are kept to a minimum.

Perhaps the first thing which you should pay attention to when it comes to making sure that your lawn is looking great is to take a hint from all of those signs which are so frequently displayed around parks and public buildings. Keep off the grass. It might sound like a simplistic solution, but people walking across your lawn can have a big impact on the health and the appearance of the grass contained within. If you are looking for the best possible results, limiting the time which people are allowed on the grassy areas can be the best bet. While it may not be possible (or desirable) to always stay away from the lawn, it is also important to remember that it is not a football pitch or a pathway. Keeping the sports to a minimum can keep the grass looking at its best.

A great way in which you can get the lawn which you want to get is to go right back to the beginning of the gardening process. By selecting the right type of grass, you can select everything, right from the shade of green to the amount of care which it will require. While it might not seem to be the case, there can actually be a big difference between the different varieties of grass and the different grasses all bring something different to the table. Some are sturdier and require less watering. Others will provide a very vivid hue and be perfect for showing off your lawn. When it comes to making sure that the lawn is looking just how you want it to, taking the time to carefully select the right type of grass can make a huge difference.

One of the biggest requirements for any plant is water. While it might seem that living in areas such as Britain (or on occasion Long Island) provides a rainy day every week, this can actually be a hindrance when it comes to the best garden design and garden maintenance. Because the rain is so frequent and so expected, the warm weather can lull lawn owners into a false sense of security and mean that they forget to water the grass as it is something which has to be done so infrequently. While overwatering can be equally as damaging, remember your lawn during the height of summer and should the country be blessed with a heat wave, remember to keep your lawn hydrated for the best possible appearance.

When it comes to getting the best possible lawn care, however, the best solution is often to turn towards the experts. Even if it is a very occasional service, having a professional take a once over on the grass which makes up your lawn can help make sure that you are on the right track when it comes to keeping your garden looking at its very best. For those in need of a great bit of grass care, expert help is ideal.

Bio: (About the Guest Author) Christine is a professional blogger who is engaged in organizing her household and raising her 2 kids. She has extensive experience in writing about different matters related to home maintenance. Currently she is sharing useful gardening tips and ideas.

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Proper Mulching Technique and the Dangers of “VOLCANO MULCH”

volcano mulch
Volcano Mulching

Recently I have been noticing a rash of trees that have become victim to the dangers of “volcano mulching”.  Volcano mulching refers to the piling up of mulch around the base of trees causing moisture to build up around the trunk, rotting out the tree and leading to a slow death by suffocation due to lack of oxygen exchange to the roots.

mulch line
Photograph 2 (Mulch Line)

Proper mulching involves adding a protective layer of organic mulch approximately 2-4 inches thick, keeping the mulch about six inches away from the base of trees so to avoid build up.  Mulch has many advantages including the addition of organic matter to the soil, allowing moisture retention for the plant and helping as a weed barrier to keep weeds down as well as adding an attractive finishing touch to garden beds.

Signs of tree suffocation are indicated by a darkening of the trunk with patches of blacked spots going up the tree.  In Photograph 2 you can see where approximately six inches of mulch had been piled up on this tree causing the tree to already start rotting. When removing the mulch it should be to the level of the tree collar (where the base of the tree starts to flare out). Even routine mulching can gradually build up so it is recommended to remove some of the older mulch if necessary before applying a new fresh layer.  This tree should now be fine since the mulch was removed and the base of the tree will be allowed to heal and the health of the tree restored.

 As Always…Happy Gardening!

 Author:  Lee@Landscape Design By Lee, 2014, All Rights Reserved

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Winter Damaged Hydrangea & Crape Myrtle-How to Treat

Winter Damage to Hydrangea & Crape Myrtle

This past winter has been recorded to be one of the worst for winter damage to foliage of plants in the past 25 years. I have witnessed winter damaged Hydrangea and Crape Myrtle on many properties I have visited and have been getting many inquiries as to how to remedy the damage that has occurred. Chances are that your plants will fully recover so I am passing on this useful information.

hydrangea winter die back
Hydrangea Winter Damage

If your hydrangea are sprouting new growth from the bottom only with no new sprouts on the upper stems and visible shoots on bare wood have a dark dried up appearance then they are not viable. To remedy cut back all dead wood down to where new growth is occurring.  If your variety of hydrangea blooms on old wood you may not get blooms this year but your hydrangea should fully recover.

crape myrtle winter damage
Crape Myrtle Winter Damage

In the case of Crape Myrtles most of them survived but have dead top growth. It is advisable to wait until the end of June/beginning of July to cut back branches to new growth in order to allow the plant to sprout as much new foliage as possible. Other plants showing winter damage besides hydrangea and crape myrtle include butterfly bush and roses.  Use the same practice to remove expired growth.

Butterfly Bush Winter Damage
Butterfly Bush Winter Damage

 Due to the unusually harsh winter plant growth is delayed by approximately two to three weeks this season.   New growth will have a slow start this spring but with some patience and proper care your plants should show full recovery.

  As Always…Happy Gardening!

 Author:  Lee@Landscape Design By Lee, 2014, All Rights Reserved

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Planning a New Lawn? – Sod verses Seed

Lawn Care -Types of Seed httpccesuffolk.orgassetsHorticulture-LeafletsThe-Homeowners-Lawn-Care-and-Water-Quality-Almanac.pdf
Cornell Lawn Grass Types

Are you looking to plant a new lawn? Here is some useful information to help you decide whether you want to go seed or sod. First of all there are several considerations when deciding.  Successful establishment of a lawn depends on temperature and moisture conditions and can be difficult in some regions.  The best time for seed germination is when the temperatures are cool at night and the daytime temperatures range in the 60’s-70’s.  Here on Long Island the best period for seeding is in early fall. There is a two month span between August 15th and October 15th which is ideal, supplying just the right conditions for germination.  Seeding in the spring can be done but there is the risk of crabgrass invasion before the lawn is able to become established and may result in an unsuccessful lawn or one that needs repair in the fall.  Ideally, a satisfying sod or seed lawn can be achieved by following some basic steps.

Advantages of Sod                                                                 Disadvantages of Sod 

  • provides an instant lawn                                                 . costs more
  • immediate erosion control                                               . some mixtures limited for shade
  • can be installed at any time when ground is not frozen
  • weed-free
  • reduced probability of establishment failure
  • established within 2-3 weeks

Advantages of Seed                                                               Disadvantages of Seed

  • less expensive                                                               . time lag before area is usable
  • wide variety selection                                                    . limited seeding periods
  • less time to install                                                          . erosion potential initially
  • ease of establishment in difficult areas                           . potential weeds & need to re-seed

Sod installation provides a mature lawn with less chance of failing and is established within 2-3 weeks. Seeding should not be considered in areas where erosion is high and will take longer to germinate but is lower in cost.  If it is important for you to have a lawn that can be used and enjoyed within a few weeks, then a sod lawn would be the way to go.  If you are willing to wait for your lawn to germinate and the timing is right (between August – October 15th on Long Island) then seed would be the choice.  In either case be sure to water your lawn frequently at regular intervals to get it established and practice proper lawn care afterwards.  Your developing lawn area should be kept moist but not wet for proper germination and watered deeply after maturity to encourage proper root growth.  A beautiful lawn can be established either way when following the proper procedures. Above is a chart showing the different seed mixtures available to you and their requirements with a link to Cornell’s Lawn Calender.

 As Always…Happy Gardening!

 Author:  Lee@Landscape Design By Lee, 2014, All Rights Reserved

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Feature Plant: Liriope muscari ‘Variegata’

Liriope muscari ‘Variegata’

Spring is approaching and soon it will be time to get back into the garden.  One of the most versatile perennials I have known over the years is variegated liriope (Liriope muscari ‘Variegata). Also known as Lilyturf, this cultivar has a grass-like appearance and grows in neatly rounded clumps which do not spread aggressively like Liriope spicata.

Liriope ‘Variegata’ is cold hardy in USDA zones 5-10, grows in full sun to shade and will tolerate a range of conditions from moist soil to drought conditions.  It grows to a height of 12-16 inches and is mainly evergreen displaying cream and green variegated foliage.  Showy flower spikes of deep lilac blooms resembling grape hyacinth emerge in late summer and last into fall followed by dark berries which persist into winter. Liriope is adaptable under pine and walnut trees and is excellent when used as a ground cover or border.   It is also widely used for erosion control, considered to be rabbit and deer resistant and is drought tolerant once established.

This versatile plant fits well into just about any type of garden from informal to formal and is very hardy and reliable in performance year after year.  Liriope is completely evergreen in warmer climates and is semi-evergreen here on Long Island. It can be cut back part way in fall or left until spring to be pruned.  If browning occurs over winter simply cut back in early spring to allow for new growth to appear.   Variegated liriope is easy to grow, fairly disease resistant and will provide interest to your garden all year round.  It will prove to be a dependable and versatile addition to any landscape.

As Always…Happy Gardening!

Author:  Lee@Landscape Design By Lee, 2014, All Rights Reserved

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