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March 2011 Newsletter

                       March 2011                                                April 2011

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 Information you can use

Controlling Zoysia Grass
The importance of Mulch
The role of anti-dessicants


The first step to controlling Zoysia grass is to identify it as Zoysia Grass. It is most easily identified in the fall through spring months, as it turns brown and straw like in appearance when the daily average temperature falls below 55 degrees.

While Zoysia grass is drought tolerant, holds up well to foot traffic, and provides thick coverage to lawn areas, these same qualities can also be problematic to homeowners. With its quick-spreading growth habit, Zoysia grass can oftentimes invade and choke out neighboring yards and gardens. Therefore, it may be necessary to contain Zoysia or even remove the grass to keep it under control.

Zoysia grass spreads through underground rhizomatous runners. One of the best ways to keep Zoysia out of neighboring lawns or garden beds is to establish good borders. This can be accomplished by having Landscape Edging installed, so that the Zoysia grass is unable to get through.

Alternatively, those looking to simply eradicate the grass can have the entire lawn area treated with a non-selective herbicide. To achieve the best results, the herbicide should be applied while the grass is still green and actively growing.

Also keep in mind that non-selective herbicides still have the potential to kill other plants on contact. Therefore, they should be applied by a Trained and Certified Applicator.

Since Zoysia is known to come back, repeated applications will most likely be necessary. Treated areas will eventually turn brown and provided no more Zoysia has popped up, it is generally safe to have the area reseeded within a couple weeks.

We here at Dom’s Landscaping are committed to providing you with the best, and most up to date lawn care options available. Please contact our office for more information, or to make an appointment with our lawn care professional.

We thank you for allowing us to serve you, and our community.



It seems like only a few months ago we were putting down mulch on our gardens and shrubs to help get our plants through the summer's hot dry season. Mulching in the spring or summer seems a natural part of building the gardens we want to look at and enjoy in the warm months. So the last logical step after tilling, raking, planting and fertilizing the beds is to top them off with a couple inches of mulch to even up the appearance of the beds, to keep down the weeds, and to help preserve the precious moisture that falls during the dry season.

Well, some of the same logic that told us to mulch in the spring is still appropriate in the fall. This time, however, mulching will serve to get our plants through the winter. And, even though we are doing the same thing, the reasons are a bit different. And the reasons make it critical to apply the mulch at the right time.

As fall comes to a close, we pull out the spent annuals, prune back the dead parts of perennials, and clean up fallen leaves and branches. Perhaps we spread some compost on the beds to revitalize them and to give them more organic matter and substance. But, even though it is the last step in readying the beds for winter, we dutifully hold off on putting down that topping of mulch. Why?

Let's look first at why we put mulch on the gardens for the winter. Then, the timing of applying it will become more evident. Some of the reasons are the same as they were in the warm season. We want to top-dress the gardens so they will look presentable through the less colorful winter months. The uniform appearance announces that they are well-tended, cared-for gardens. It enhances the overall appearance of our properties. When spring comes, there will be fewer, or no, weeds. Rain or snow that falls will be readily absorbed and held near the plant roots.

But there is one other reason that we need mulch in winter that is not always apparent. As the ground goes through the freezing and thawing cycles that occur as part of our temperate winters, it can heave plants and bulbs out of the soil, damaging their roots and making the stressed plant vulnerable to disease later on. Since it doesn't happen all the time and to all the plants, we may not even be aware of it. A layer of mulch will help keep the soil temperature variations to a minimum and, thereby, reduce the possibility of heaving.

Timing of application is very important. We do not want to apply the mulch too early. Doing so could create heat around the plant, encouraging it to put out new growth that will be killed by a hard frost. This would cause severe stress in the plant that would unduly weaken it in future years. And once mulched, we do not want to leave the mulch on too late in the spring as this would produce long leggy growth that will be pale since it lacks chlorophyll from sufficient exposure to sunlight. To take advantage of the help mulch will give us over the winter we need to arrange our fall gardening calendar as follows. After cleaning up the beds and putting on some compost, we want to wait for one or two nights of good, hard frost. We want the shrubs and perennials to go dormant. The frost will shock them into dormancy. Then, we mulch.

A hard or killing frost is when the temperature drops below 25? F. The first hard frosts usually occur in the south central Pennsylvania area on or around November 15. When we hear that a hard frost is predicted, we want to make sure the plants have been well watered. Once the ground freezes down around the plant roots, they will not be able to take up moisture as they normally would. Consequently, winter sun and wind will wreak havoc with the foliage and dry it out. Not only is this unsightly, but it opens the way for disease and insect damage and breakage. With the plants properly watered, wait until there have been one or two nights of hard frost. The plants will go into their dormant period. Now is the time to preserve the ground moisture and to assure that there will be sufficient insulation so the ground will not undergo dramatic temperature changes.

Shrubs & Woody Ornamentals: For the winter protection the best mulch material is organic mulch. We need to apply the mulch evenly to a depth of 2"-4" over the entire garden. We want to keep the soil temperature from varying wildly. Incidentally, if you do have plants with exposed leaves that could dry out, now is the time to spray them with an ANTIDESSICANT.

Please see our article on the importance of using ANTIDESSICANTS to prevent
winter damage.

Bulbs & Perennials: To protect these plants, mulch will provide protection from the temperature changes and yet are loose enough to allow sufficient air circulation and water penetration to keep the plants healthy. The mulch on these beds should not be applied too early, before the soil temperature drops sufficiently to send the perennials into dormancy. Nor should it be of an easily compacted material, such as whole leaves. Compacted material around the crowns of the plant encourages disease and fungal growth. Applying a protective cover of mulch at the right time will assure that the plants survive the winter in a healthy condition to produce their best come spring. Happy Mulching!

Best regards,
Dom, Phil and the entire Dom’s Landscaping crew.




Winter burn injury is leaf damage that is caused by cold winds which dry out the leaves of evergreens, (Tree’s and Shrubs that keep their leaves through the winter).During the day when temperatures climb above freezing, the Sun pulls moisture to the surface of the leaf (transpiration), causing it to sweat. Some of this moisture evaporates, never to be replaced until spring. The remaining moisture then freezes as temperatures drop below freezing, causing further damage. See photos above.

There are products available which can reduce this injury when used properly by one of our Certified Pesticide Applicator’s. They are in a group of products known as ANTI-DESSICANTS or ANTI-TRANSPIRANTS. They create a barrier over the pores (stomates) in the leaves, which allow the plant to breath but reduces water loss through transpiration (daily leaf sweating). Like a winter coat made of breathable wax, Anti-desiccants can also be used when transplanting trees and shrubs and for prolonging the freshness of live foliage decorations like Christmas trees and wreaths.

Winter burn injury can take place whenever the soil freezes and winter winds blow drawing moisture from leaves. Plant roots cannot uptake water from frozen soil to replace the losses experienced in the leaves. The longer these conditions exist, the more moisture is lost and death of leaf tissue results. Plants that hold their leaves (evergreens) over the winter are vulnerable, broadleaf types are more susceptible than the needle type evergreens due to the larger surface area of their leaves. The most common months for this to occur on Long Island are late December, January and February.

To prevent winter burn injury we need to apply an ANTI-DESSICANT in December, January and February. One late fall application is not enough. Just as your Winter Coat would deteriorate if left outside all month, ANTI-DESSICANTS naturally break down after 30 days.

Here is a partial list of evergreen plants that are susceptible, especially if used as a wind screen.

• Hollies
• Forsythia
• Aucuba
• Euonymus
• Rhododendrons and evergreen Azaleas
• Cherry Laurel
• Mountain Laurel
• Japanese Pieris (Andromeda)
• Ivy
• Boxwoods
• Cedars
• Spruces
• Pines

Please call our office now to be included in this important step towards maintaining your favorite outdoor living space.

Best regards,
Dom, Phil and the entire Dom’s Landscaping team.

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