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Palm Trees

Lawn Fertilizer

When to Water

Staked Trees

The Finishing Touch

Palm Trees

A lot of you out there have palm trees of many varieties. Many of them I can tell you, have been purchased when they were very small and cute looking, only to find out later that this cute little defenseless plant has grown to be this nightmare full of killer needles. On the top of this list are Date Palms.

Date Palm

And yes, they are the ones that look like an overgrown pineapple with long sharp spines at the base, the ones you can’t trim back without poking yourself and losing half your blood supply in the process. This type of Palm does not belong in the landscape of an average tract home. It will get too large and are a danger to people.

California Robusta

Another Palm you might want to avoid is the California Robusta, unless you like the look of a telephone pole in your yard. They do look nice on large size properties or lining streets or in commercial properties where they are professionally cared for. These palm trees have a fan shaped leaf which dry out and are often left hanging on the tree which again invites pigeons, rats and other very undesirable creatures to inhabit. By the way, when I lived in Phoenix AZ, I used to climb all these palm trees to prune them and they would be full of pigeons mess along with roaches crawling out all over. It would just about freak me out. Fortunately, I no longer do that!

These trees, after they mature will throw out long seed pods which when dry, will rain down black round little seeds that will germinate in your flower beds and grow like irremovable grass. In fact that’s how some of you have received this free palm tree that you can’t ever recall planting.

Queen Palm, Mediterranean Palm & Pigmy Date Palm

Some of the nicer palms that I enjoy using in my landscapes are the Queen Palm, Pigmy Date Palm, Mediterranean Palm and Pindo Palm. It’s true that some of these palms do have needles, but they are much easier to work around than the Date Palm.

I’m very much against watering these palms with a drip system that has micro drip ends. It does not keep these plants hydrated enough to endure the heat in the summer and the frost in the winter. A pop up spray system will provide great coverage to allow their roots to spread and stabilize the trees.

Palms are of the grass family and do not have wood trunks. They are made of fiber. One of the biggest problems that cause palms to fall over and die is because they gradually lose their root system. This happens when the soil is eroded from under the base of the trunk. As the soil erodes away, the smaller the root system becomes. This can be repaired by forcing soil under the base of the tree and raising the soil level around the tree 1″ above the top of the root line under base of tree.

Yes, palms are of the grass family and need to be fertilized to maintain good health and color. You can pick up palm fertilizer at your local hardware store or nursery.

So let’s keep our palms looking great by pruning and feeding them on a regular basis.

Lawn Fertilizer

Does the grass really have to be greener on the other side of your fence? Does your lawn look stressed and tired? Many times I find that lawns are not being fed often enough or are being fed junk food.

Every living thing needs to eat regularly with quality food to maintain good health. So too lawns need to be fed regularly to maintain its health. Any good name brand of lawn fertilizer purchased at your local hardware store will do the job.

I mentioned earlier about junk food for your lawn. It’s true that most of us like junk food that is why there are so many places we can get it. But we all know that it’s not the healthiest choice for food, but it does make us happy for a little while. In comparison some folks like to use ammonium sulfate to fertilize their lawns. But I would not recommend this to be used as your regular lawn fertilizer. This product works well to quickly turn it green but it does not promote root growth which in turn promotes top growth. So then it’s like feeding junk food to your lawn. It’s going to look happy for a short time but it’s not going to maintain its health for the long term. Just a quick note on this, in the winter with frost on the ground, this product will help to restore the color back to your lawn.

How often should lawns be fertilized? Every two to three months. In the fall, a winter fertilizer should be applied. And in the spring, a fertilizer with weed control can be applied to help control broad leaf weeds. When using the weed control fertilizer be sure to follow the directions carefully on the package for best results.

I prefer to use the hand held cast spreaders rather than the push or walk behind types. You will have better control over the area that you are casting the fertilizer. Some push style spreaders do not cover the lawn area evenly as the fertilizer does not drop from the holder evenly. That’s why some lawns have uneven color in them.

When using hand held cast spreaders, be careful about not casting fertilizer onto sidewalks, driveways or street gutters. Not only do we not want these products to end up in our waterways, but some of these products can also stain your concrete. So be sure to blow or sweep fertilizer toward the lawn after application.

Remember, the grass can be greener on your side of the fence!

When to Water

As I travel around the neighborhoods maintaining my clients yards, I can’t help but notice irrigation water being siphoned off by the wind and heat. I see money being evaporated away. What do I mean? Homeowners irrigation timers are set to turn on their systems in the afternoon and evening when the wind is blowing and the heat is intense. As this occurs only 20%-40% of the water ever hits the ground. When you think about this, it means that 60%-80% of the water never touches the soil that your garden is growing in, much less penetrating deep into the root system.

So, what can be done about this? Water before the sun rises and the winds start to blow. Readjust your timer start time so that the watering sequence will be finished just before sunrise.

Some water their lawns early in the morning and then later in the evening hoping that this will give their thirsting lawn the water it needs. But they still continue having a stressed looking lawn. It would seem to make sense watering this way because we all get thirsty more than once a day. However, because we have clay soil, the water cannot penetrate quickly into it. After about 7 or 8 minutes of watering time the water will start to run off, and the rest of your money, I mean water, will be draining away.

What to do? Most timers have 3 start times. You only need 2 to fix this situation. Set your 2 start times 1 hour apart. Say, the first start time will be 4:00a.m. in the morning and second start time 5:00a.m. Each station should have only 7 or 8 minutes run times each. Be sure that the first total run time minutes does not overlap on the second start time. By doing this sequence type watering schedule, you allow the ground to absorb the water, and to soften for deeper penetration on the next watering cycle, thus creating a reservoir of water in the root system where you wanted your water to be in the first place.

I hope this helps to make your garden thrive and make the most of your hard earned dollar. There are other reasons for stressed lawns and plants, But we’ll touch on those another day.

Staked Trees

As I travel through the newer neighborhoods I notice that so many trees look like their being held captive for growing to maturity. It’s not the trees’ fault for what happened; it’s just part of the natural cycle of things.

The general rule of thumb is when the tree trunk becomes the same size as the stake in diameter then the stakes and the straps can be removed. If the tree has a problem supporting itself and wants to fall over then it would be better to remove it and plant another. More than likely, if the tree has been in the ground for at least a couple of years the roots are probably girdling around themselves or it was a poor specimen to begin with.

The Finishing Touch

Often times I will see a yard that is in good shape and in good condition but one thing throws it all off and that is weeds in the cracks of the sidewalks, driveways and curbs.

This is one of the easiest maintenance projects to do in your yard. Start off by spraying the weeds with a weed killer found at your local hardware store. After the weeds dry out and die, use you weed eater or string trimmer to remove them.

Remember to always use caution when using power equipment. Use eye and ear protection. Be sure you don’t hit people, cars and windows with rocks or other debris.

Next, either blow or sweep away the debris. Now you have put the finishing touch to your yard.

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