PRFCT Tips

Tagged with "Plants"

Drip irrigation

Got new trees and shrubs? Drip irrigation can be an effective way to keep them well-hydrated this summer, but keep in mind the following before you put down those hoses:

  • Place drip tubes beyond the root ball, as well as on it, to encourage roots to grow into the surrounding soil.
  • Water newly planted trees and shrubs seldom (less often than your lawn) and deep (12-18"). Too much watering encourages excess growth, a magnet for fungus diseases and sucking insects.
  • Remove tubes after two years. Your plants will be well-established and just won't need the irrigation anymore.

Photo credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture

root flare mature tree

Many of you will be celebrating Arbor Day this week by planting trees in your yards, parks, or elsewhere in your community. We could not be happier! But before you pick up your shovel, please take a moment to locate the root flare of the tree you are planting.

“What’s the root flare?,” you may ask.

The root flare is where the roots of the tree begin to spread out from the trunk. You should be able to locate this flare even in young trees in nursery containers, but you may have to brush away some soil to find it.

Once you find it, do not bury the root flare when planting the tree.

Why? Covering the flare will bury and destroy bark that the tree relies on for oxygen and protection from diseases. And roots that are buried too deeply often grow upward in search of the proper mixture of water, nutrients, and oxygen. Roots growing in the wrong direction can eventually wrap around the tree, strangling the trunk as it grows.

Placing material against the tree’s trunk can also cause the bark to rot and leave the tree susceptible to infection.

Show your trees how much you love them this Arbor Day. Plant them properly and you'll be enjoying their company for decades to come.

Create mulch rings around your trees, not volcanoes.

leave in grass

How much to water in the fall? Not at all!

Turn off your irrigation! Your lawn and landscape does not need supplemental water in typically cool, moist, fall weather. This is the time to encourage roots to grow deep and strong: resilient and ready for hot and dry weather next summer. 



However, as a final treat to your plants, and their roots, before heading into the long cold winter, you might need to give them a long deep drink, making sure there is plenty of moisture way down in the soil before your irrigation system is shut down for the winter. How to do that?

First, test to see how deep your moisture lies (need a moisture meter?). It needs to be at least 6” deep. If it is wet, all is well. If it is dry down there, water away. It could mean for hours: think the equivalent of a day or two of rain. Consider dividing watering into two consecutive days to allow water to penetrate, especially in heavier soils.

sprinkler

Your Seed is Planted, Germinated, and Growing. Now, how to water PRFCTly?

Now that your new grass seedlings are more than 1.5 inches tall it is time to encourage their roots to grow deeper by watering properly.

Allow the top inch of soil to get dry between waterings. Depending on the weather, this might mean watering two to three times per week for 10 to 20 minutes. Try to restrict this frequency to newly seeded areas.

Do NOT "set and forget" your irrigation system. Overwatering will lead to weak and fungus-prone grass.

Less is more.


grasses

Grass is grass, right? Actually, no. Choosing the right seed makes a big difference.

There are four main types of grass, each with its own personality.
Kentucky Bluegrass: Classic color and texture, disease prone, tolerates high traffic.
Perennial Rye: Fast growing, strong roots, needs full sun, poor drought tolerance. *
Fine Fescues: Tolerate shade and acid soil, low fertilizer, light traffic.
Tall Fescues: Drought, insect, disease resistant. Moderate shade/full sun. Fast growing. The best for Long Island.

Grasses are generally sold as mixes of these varieties. How to choose? There is no absolutely correct mix, so take our suggestions as a guide and find a local provider who is knowledgeable.

We recommend this for Northeast lawns:
Sunny Lawns:
Medium to High Maintenance: 65% Kentucky Bluegrass**, several different varieties 15% Perennial Rye 20% Fine Fescues.
Low Maintenance: 65% Fine Fescues Blend, 15% Perennial Rye, 20% Kentucky Bluegrass. Or 100% Tall Fescues blend.
Shady Lawns:
Average to Low Traffic: 100% Fine Fescues blend. Or Shady Tall Fescues.***
Got Bare Patches?
Mixes with at least 10% Kentucky Bluegrass will help fill in patchy areas.

*Annual Rye (vs. Perennial) is included in many contractor mixes. Fills in fast, then dies, creating space for weeds. Not recommended.
**For high traffic lawns use a Bluegrass heavy mix.
***High traffic doesn't work in the shade. Consider using path materials

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