Landscape, maintenance crew and Account Managers activities taking place on your properties during August.
To summarize the important horticultural issues for August:
GRASS AREAS IN SHADED AREAS SUCH AS NORTH SIDES OF BUILDINGS AND UNDER TREES HAS SUFFERED RAPIDLY OVER THE LAST FEW WEEKS AS THE “WINTER” RYE GRASS HAS FINALLY DIED OFF. BECAUSE THESE AREAS ARE SHADED, THE SUMMER BERMUDA GRASS HAS DECLINED OVER A PERIOD OF YEARS TO LEAVE AREAS OF BROWN GRASS OR BARE SOIL. TYPICALLY IRRIGATION IS NOT THE PROBLEM AND YOUR ACCOUNT MANAGER SHOULD BE GETTING THE CREWS TO START RAKING OUT THE DEAD GRASS AND APPROACHING YOU WITH EITHER THE OPTION OF OVERSEEDING OR SODDING THESE AREAS WITH BERMUDA GRASS.
a) The grass should be fertilized with a 16:4:4 ratio fertilizer to encourage the development of the summer Bermuda grass. Rake out any brown winter rye grass and ensure there is adequate irrigation coverage. We are actively preparing for the September scalp season which should start on September 15th for the winter lawn renovation.
b) Spray weeds in turf. Aerate turf and treat with Calcium Sulphate.
c) Carry out light shrub pruning and shaping as necessary. Remove branches over sidewalks and selectively prune larger branches. Separate shrubs which are growing into each other, such are Lantanas growing into Agaves or Desert Spoons.
d) Fertilize flowers every two weeks, deadhead flowers weekly and ensure there is adequate irrigation coverage. Make sure the flowers are not getting over watered. Possibly re-plant flowers which have either faded in the sun or have become burnt with the intense heat. The new winter flowers are provisionally scheduled for being planted mid-October depending on weather and temperatures.
e) Increase the irrigation to grass areas and flowers to compensate for higher temperatures. Check overall coverage. Start to reduce the irrigation to the Bermuda grass so that it gradually reduces further growth and allows a smooth surface for the winter rye seed to settle in.
f) Apply pre-emergent weed control in granite areas
g) Continue to remove weeds in granite areas.
h) Structurally prune trees using a certified arborist, who has the correct insurance for tree work. Clean up any storm damaged trees. . The months of June and July are consumed trimming palm trees and therefore any other tree trimming may be delayed unless it is emergency work or storm damage work. We have an approximate backlog of 8 weeks are we are trying to get to all of your jobs as quickly as possible.
i) Check tree stakes and ties and prepare trees ready for the monsoons.
j) Turn off irrigation following a heavy rain storm to conserve water and prevent over watering in the landscape.
k) Deep root fertilize trees.
l) Assess Pine trees as to the extent they have “Pine Blight” — areas of brown patches throughout the crown.
m) Remove and dead trees or shrubs which often appear during this month after a long, hot summer.
If you would like further information about each task, please review the following:
Shrub Beds and Granite areas
• Most of the shrub pruning over the next few months should be a light shaping, removing branches over sidewalks or selectively pruning larger branches. Most shrubs are grown for their flowers and therefore ILM prides itself on avoiding any type of shear trimming, unless necessary, which will allow shrubs to flower as much as possible.
• Depending on the type of irrigation system in place for shrubs, a general indication of the watering schedule should be 2 — 3 hrs per cycle, and depending on the temperatures the schedule should be one or, if needed, two times per week (based on a drip irrigation system). It is much better for the plants to be watered for a long period of time on less of a frequency which will encourage the roots to develop deeper and find a water source.
• Weeds still appear to be an issue especially the summer weeds such as Russian Thistle and Nutgrass. Special chemicals are required to slowly get rid of these weeds although it can take several applications to finally try taking control of these difficult weeds. Out in the landscape areas you may now begin to have the Bermuda coming up amongst groundcovers, and shrubs, spray Fusilade II to kill the Bermuda before it becomes a big problem and the dead Bermuda has to be manually removed.
• The next application of pre-emergent weed control should take place before the end of August before the summer monsoons end and therefore our Account Managers should have sent you proposals. We are also actively spraying weeds in granite areas with Roundup or a similar post-emergent weeds control chemical. ILM are making a conscious effect to work with the laws defined by the Structural Pest Control Commission (SPCC) which states that any type of chemical application should be made by a licensed spray applicator. Many companies are operating illegally and the SPCC inspectors are beginning to carry out stringent inspections.
• Some Rosemary shrubs are showing signs of attach by Red-Spider mites, which start with a slight sign of spider web’s amongst the shrubs followed by the shrubs beginning to brown out. We are working our may around the properties a spraying the shrubs with a specific chemical, often as a preventative measure. One of the other pests that become prevalent during hot conditions is spider mites. If given a chance to get a foothold they can quickly kill many landscape plants. Rosemary, Lantana, and many others will have a webbing incasing the leaves and will have thousands of the pinhead sized bugs crawling around. Use a magnifying glass to better identify them.
• Fertilize trees or shrubs with ammonium nitrate. It is soluble with cold water and is carried down to the root system by your irrigation system. When it is applied to cool season growers, they readily absorb it. In addition, large numbers of yellow leaves on trees and shrubs this month tell the tale that buds will break into new growth. This is a prime time to supply plants with nitrogen — just prior to new growth. Sprinkle one-half pound of ammonium nitrate for every 100 square feet of moist soil and water it in.
• Unfortunately, the Bermuda grass is now beginning to establish well and most of the brown areas are beginning to disappear and now we need to start thinking about preparing to start declining the Bermuda grass ready for overseeding late September through October. As it has become more humid the Common Bermuda grass begins to develop and spread which will help eliminate any bare or brown areas in the turf.
• An application of grass fertilizer (Desert Iron ratio 16:4:4) will be made in late August which will help to keep the grass green for the next six weeks and also help the Bermuda grass root development for 2006.
• I have been asked several times about new brown areas in the grass, especially in shadier areas such as under trees. Most of the time this is due to the fact that the winter rye grass has finally died off. Because of the shade the Bermuda grass has declined over the years as it needs lots of sun. The rye grass which was protected most of the summer by the shade from the tree has finally died and had left either a brown grass area with no real Bermuda grass base. These areas need to be either reseeded or new Bermuda grass sod installed next spring.
• During the summer grass transition the watering schedule should be adjusted to approximately 5 to 6 times per week, making sure there is adequate coverage which is typically highlighted by brown spots appearing in the turf. Irrigation is crucial this month by making sure the watering frequency/times are increased from the winter schedules and also the sprinkler heads are getting full coverage. Check all irrigation schedules and adjust accordingly for warmer weather and also based on location, percent shade, etc. Watering Practices during the transition period is critical on overseeded areas. Daily applications of water that wet only the top 2″ of soil should be avoided now that temperatures favor Bermuda grass. Light frequent watering favors the ryegrass and extends their stay especially in the shady areas and will make the transition more difficult to accomplish. Longer and less frequent (more days in between) will promote a deeper root zone and make a more heat tolerant turf. If by doing this you encounter ponding water in certain areas treat these with an additional application of Gypsum or a soil surfactant. This also works well on sloped areas where you need to get a more rapid absorption of the irrigation.
• Our Licensed Spray Technicians will be also working on spraying chemicals to control the weeds within the grass areas. These should be treated every six weeks. Weeds still appear to be an issue especially the summer weeds such as Russian Thistle and Nutgrass. Special chemicals are required to slowly get rid of these weeds although it can take several applications to finally try getting control of these difficult weeds.
• One of the extra services which ILM is offering to its customers is grass aeration and de-thatching. As the grass goes through this transition to Bermuda grass aeration (spiking) helps this process by allowing better root development by breaking up surface compaction, and allows the irrigation water to penetrate deeper. The de-thatching process remove the old rye grass and also removes the build up of dead grass at the soil surface which can encourage disease and inhibit irrigation water penetration into the soil. During this process we would also apply a Calcium Sulphate based fertilizer which helps to reduce the build up of salts in the soil and allows the grass to easily uptake any future fertilizer applications during the summer. With the soils in Arizona and the lack of rain, a high salt/sodium build up in the soil can prevent plants and grass from securing any nutrients in the soil. Your Account Manager will provide you with a proposal for this turf treatment during the next few weeks.
• We are also making sure the maintenance crews cut the grass in different directions, wherever possible. This not only produces an aesthetically pleasing striped effect on the grass, but it also prevents grass rutting if the grass is cut in the same direction every week.
• The summer flowers should be establishing well and the maintenance staff are actively fertilizing and dead-heading the flowers on a weekly or fortnightly basis. Most of the hardier flowers such as Lantana are still thriving but flowers such are Penta’s and Portulaca are now beginning to fade or even get burnt from the intense sun and heat over the last 8 weeks. ILM is recommending that we replenish these varieties of flowers with similar flowers or an interim variety such as Marigolds which should last until the winter flower change-out. It is very easy to mistake flowers which are stressed with under watering when often burnt look can be attributed to the intensity of the heat, sun or even over watering.
• After the flowers are planted our irrigation technicians check and repair the watering system to ensure there is full coverage and everything is working well. It can only take two days for flowers to stress and die due to irrigation problems and therefore if you or your engineers are aware of any irrigation issues ILM encourage you to report any issues to us immediately.
• The irrigation schedule on new flowers should start at twice a day, 7 times per week, depending on soil conditions, location, etc. After the new flowers have been planted for a week, the irrigation schedule should be reduced initially by reducing the start times to once a day followed by taking off one day per week for the next few weeks. If the flowers are being over watered they will begin to turn yellow and eventually “rot”. The soil surface on a flower should be dry, but beneath the surface should be slightly moist. If flowers are currently being watered daily, then schedule should reduced gradually down to approx. 3 or 4 days per week.
• Prepare trees for the monsoon’s by thinning out the trees and checking that stakes and ties are secure.
• Mesquite and Palo Verde trees are beginning to grow quickly as the temperature’s rise. Our crews are clearing up to 12-15ft from the ground to prevent any nuisance value to pedestrians or vehicles, but most trees would benefit from more structural pruning which will help the shape of the trees, thin out the main branches and also help prevent any storm damage during the monsoons. If you would like to prepare a tree proposal for your property please contact me at your convenience. It is important that your trees are trimmed using trained tree climbers under the supervision of a Certified Arborist so that they can correctly assess the pruning requirements for each tree and provide long term recommendations for tree management. It is also essential that you use a company with the correct Insurance and Workers Compensation coverage, specifically for tree trimming. The normal coverage for landscape maintenance typically does not cover for tree trimming over 12ft in height. Contact our Certified Arborist Alastair Menzies or your Account Manager if you would like any type of advice about trees or you would like to get a tree proposal.
• We had a number of properties which had trees damaged or blown over in the recent storms. Most of the damage was caused by lack of tree trimming and the large tree canopies being caught in the high winds. There were also other causes such as tree being planted too deeply during installation, causing the tree to snap at the base next to the soil. In other circumstances the winds have been very concentrated in a certain area or property and little can be done to prevent tree damage. Property Managers should seriously consider making sure that they have a budget line item for tree trimming during Spring. Generally tree stakes should be removed after 2 – 3 years and the tree should be strong enough and have a good root system which allows the tree to be self supporting. Our maintenance crews and irrigation technicians will be working on checking/adjusting tree stakes and ties and moving or capping the irrigation immediately around the trees.
• Queen palms should be fertilized this month and then at least a further two times during the year. The cost per palm per application will range between $25 – $45 depending on size. These fertilizer applications will keep the palm leaves green and keep the palm healthy. Queen palms should also be trimmed once a year.
• Ficus trees- ILM is recommending waiting to prune off the dead branches from Ficus trees until October / November 2007. We feel as though, even though the dead branches are unsightly, that they are still providing some protection from the harsh summer sun on the Ficus trunks and therefore putty the tree under more stress than they currently are under recovering from the winter frost.
• Most palm tree trimming should be completed before mid September. If you have not received a proposal, please contact your Account Manager ASAP.
• Most large trees and palms benefit at this time of year from deep root fertilizing. This process involves pressure jetting a fertilizer mix down into the root zone. Most trees will show noticeable improvements within weeks of the tree has been fertilized and the tree will benefit from increased root development and make the tree stronger and healthier during the summer months. The cost per tree ranges from $10 – $40 depending on the girth of the tree trunk.
• The Account Managers will also be actively inspecting your properties for quality issues and while they are doing this they will be preparing recommendations for landscape improvements such as plant replacements or granite replenishment. At this time of year sometimes budget money can become available and I want to make sure that you have proposals on file which you can approve when appropriate.
• Our Construction Department have been growing tremendously and we have now 5 construction crews available to complete a full range of projects ranging from $1 million new HOA’s to $200 re-planting upgrades on your property. As the months continue to pass quickly it might be prudent to starting planning for planting or improvement projects which you may want completed before the end of the year.
• If you are interested in completing any size of landscape projects please contact your Account Manager or myself at your convenience.
• ILM can also offer Backflow Inspection’s by a Certified Tester at a cost ranging from $35.00 to $45.00 per Backflow, depending on location and type of Backflow.
If you have any questions or concerns about your property, please feel free to contact me at your convenience.
Integrated Landscape Management (ILM)
Robert Clinkenbeard – Co-owner
1150 E. Gilbert Drive,Tempe AZ 85281
Tel: (480) 675-7709 Fax: (480) 675-7619
email@example.com Web site: www.ilm-llc.com
Contractors License # ROC183621,
S.P.C.C. Pesticide Business License # 8294
Certified Arborist # WE-7668A