Posted on July 29th, 2011 No comments
From nearing record heat and drought to breaking all records for rainfall during the month, we have lived through a wet and wild weather month this July. We have survived, but hopefully our plants have, too!
As we watched the weather zap the moisture from lawns and gardens, we issued a watering alert to you all, advising everyone to be sure to water everything in their yard. Just as we were about to announce a second warning, a period of storms began that led to the single most rainfall in a day with nearly 7” falling in the Chicago area on July 23rd, 2011. That was followed by several more severe storms with heavy rainfall to end the month, breaking the record held since 1889. What a crazy weather month for us and our landscaping.
What does this mean for your garden and lawn? Most plants will incur damage from all this water, if their roots are saturated with water for longer than 24 hours. If your yard is soggy but not under water, the larger plants are probably going to be fine. However, in shady areas with water-logged soils we are seeing grass begin to rot out. Luckily, mid to late August is an ideal time for overseeding to establish a new lawn before winter. We have also noticed powdery mildew and other fungus diseases on the lawn. These usually resolve themselves, but if you are concerned, and the lawn seems to be in serious decline, it can be treated with a fungicide. We have had several calls about mushrooms and colorful slime molds in lawns and mulched beds. These are nature’s way of breaking down decomposing organic matter, and they won’t hurt any living things. They can be scraped away if they are bothersome. NEVER eat a mushroom you find in the garden unless you are sure they are not poisonous!
Ornamental grasses and heavy flower heads of hydrangeas and other flowers have been bent down with the rain. Propping them up with a garden stake will restore them to their beauty. Leaf spots seem to be everywhere… typically the fungus that caused them is gone, but the blemish remains.
Many trees and shrubs sustained damage from the strong winds and will need pruning. If you had a tree struck by lightning, contact an arborist for evaluation, it may not show signs for weeks or months, but it could have been weakened and have become a hazard to property.
We are ending the month of July with record-setting rainfall, but this doesn’t mean we don’t need to water again until September! As always, watering our outdoor green space does not mean that one or two storms will sustain our plants for weeks on end. It is important to watch the amount of rainfall each week and the condition of your yard to determine the need for watering. Normally, on average your garden will need at least 1” per week in order to maintain healthy blooms and good color from you plants, trees and lawn. If the plants are newly installed (less than 2 seasons in your yard) they will need more water, closer to 2″ in a week’s time. It is easy to check if its time to water by exploring the moisture level in your planting beds or below your sod. Simply dig into the soil and touch the soil. If the first 3-4” below the surface are dry, its time again to water.
Below we have provided some simple watering guidelines:
Trees and Shrubs: Place the open end of the hose at the base of the plant and allow it to gently flow onto the root ball of the plant. The rate of flow should be such that it soaks into the soil without running off or puddling. You can water each plant individually, ten minutes per four feet height of plant, or place a sprinkler to cover the area for several (3) hours.
Groundcover and Perennials: These plants have much smaller root balls than their woody companions and thus will need more frequent watering. Sprinklers are the easiest way to apply water. A sprinkler should be set to run for 1 to 2 hours allowing water to penetrate the top 6 – 12” of soil.
Don’t forget to water your lawn! After 2 weeks without rain, the crowns start to die. Your watering should penetrate 8 – 10” into the root zone to be adequate.
If you have an irrigation system check for “dry pockets”. As plants grow, the spray may not reach all the way to the back of the bed or over the taller perennials. We recommend running through the entire system during the day watching as each zone works to be sure it is irrigating all your plants.
Remember to give your yard the attention it deserves and protect both the value and beauty of your landscaping. For more information call us or visit our website at www.naturesperspective.com.
Posted on July 26th, 2011 No comments
Many gardens in the areas we serve have two factors that can make gardening difficult….deer and shade. If you love the look of ornamental grasses but thought they couldn’t possibly survive in your shady, deer-troubled garden, think again. There are actually a number of beautiful ornamental grasses and sedges that not only tolerate shade, but seem to be resistant to deer. They would make an unexpected yet wonderful addition, with their fine texture playing off other plants that typically inhabit a shade garden, like hosta and fern.
These are our favorites:
Carex elata ‘Bowles Golden’, Bowles Golden Sedge, is a beautiful sedge with vivid yellow foliage that seems to glow in partial shade. This plant grows in a tight, densely tufted mound and is somewhat upright in habit, and would thrive in a water or woodland garden or moist location. 12-18” h.
Carex hachioensis ‘Evergold’, Evergold Sedge, has thin, creamy leaves edged with green margins. More fountain-like and delicate looking than ‘Ice Dance’, it creates a striking, whorly mound that, when massed, lights up dark corners of the shade garden. 8-12” h
Carex morrowii ‘Ice Dance’, Ice Dance Sedge, is a small, somewhat upright sedge with deep green leaves edges with distinct white margins. The foliage lasts well into winter. 8-12″ h.
Chasmanthium latifolium, Northern Sea Oats Grass, is a tall, bamboo-like ornamental grass with graceful arching stems with bluish green foliage and tolerates full sun to partial shade. Its flattened, saw-toothed flowers change in color from green in summer, to copper in fall and then tan in winter. Oat-like seedheads are great in dried arrangements. 36-48”h.
Hakonechloa macra, Japanese Forest Grass, is bamboo-like and noted for its movement in breezes, offering a cascading or an undulating behavior much like flowing water. The variety ‘Aureola’, with its yellow blades striped with green lines, is wonderful in shady areas or evening gardens, and complements dark leaved plants. Prefers moist, humus-rich soil. 12-18”h.
Deschampsia caespitosa, Tufted Hair Grass, is a clump-forming, cool season grass that sends out wide, airy panicles of subtly tinted, tiny flowers high above the plant, appearing cloud-like. It thrives in a moderately shady, moist location with organically rich soil. 24-36” h.
Hystrix patula, Bottlebrush Grass, is a medium sized, upright ornamental grass that is very shade-tolerant and native to the US. Leaf blades are a pretty blue-gray, but what’s striking about this grass are the beautiful, bottlebrush-like flower spikes it sends out in summer. Very deer- and rabbit-resistant. 36-48”h.
Luzula nivea ‘Lucius’, Snowy Woodrush, looks like an ornamental grass, with its thin, deep green blades, but it is actually a member of the Rush family. This plant is surprising in that it looks like an ornamental grass, yet it bears small clusters of fluffy white flowers in early spring and summer. If you have a moist, shady location you’d like to brighten, give this plant a try. 24”h.
Sporobolus heterolepsis, Prairie Dropseed Grass, is a clump forming, warm season native grass has with airy, scented spikes that hover over finely textured. hair-like medium green foliage. Its fragrance is likened to buttered popcorn, hot wax, and some say it has hints of coriander. Foliage turns a beautiful, golden with orange hues in fall, fading to light bronze in winter. A tough grass that tolerates a wide range of soils, including heavy clays, but it prefers dry, rocky soils. Can thrive in light shade. 18-24″h.