Camellias are an excellent option for most homeowners' landscape in Louisiana. They are resilient plants that bloom through the cool season providing some welcome color between fall and winter. Flowers from each plant tend to bloom only one color. Their colors range from white, pink, red, and a number of shades between. Camellias will inject beauty into any landscape garden they are planted.
Camellias are easy to maintain. This is nice since so many people have them still alive in their landscape beds at their homes. Camellias like partial shade, since too much sun can cause problems. They prefer acidic, well drained soils. Organic mulch can do wonders for your camellia. Camellias do not need to be pruned often. If you do need to prune, do it in spring after they have finished blooming.
C. sasanqua is the smaller of the two, usually staying in the form of a small shrub range between 2 feet and up to 12 feet.. These tend to have a larger number of smaller flowers. Sasanquas like well drained soils and can handle dry spells better than C. japonica.
Here are some we use:
Shi-Shi Gashira camellia - dwarf, pink flowers, Louisiana Super Plant
Snow on the Mountain - dwarf, white flowers
Maiden Blush camellia - upright, pink flowers
Yuletide camellia - upright, red flowers
These are a much taller camellia, growing an average 12 feet with some types growing as tall as 25 feet. These have fewer, but larger flowers. Japonicas need a lot of moisture.
Here are some we use:
Sarah Frost camellia - upright, dark pink flowers
Sea Foam camellia - upright, white flowers
Omega camellia - upright, white-pink flowers
Royal Velvet - upright, red flowers
We are finally getting some crisp cold weather. Those warm season flowers of summer are all but dead at this point and should be pulled up. After pulling the old plants, you will need to prepare the soil.
Pull the weeds first. Add at least two inches of organic additives like chicken manure, compost, etc. Till the soil between eight and twelve inches deep. Sprinkle on your choice of fertilizer. Form the bed into a nice plateau and rake it smooth. For new beds, most cool season flowers want sun. Choose areas that are well drained and have a lot of sun. The more sun, the better.
If growing flowers from seed, read your seed packet closely to get the correct planting depth and spacing from other plants. Generally, the smaller the seed, the closer to the surface they are planted. If you accidentally plant too many seeds, thin them out when they start to grow. Overcrowding will make your plants under perform.
Use mulch. It prevents weed growth, deters fungus from spreading, and holds moisture in the ground. Keep your colors simple. Stick to one or up to three colors per grouping. Too many colors become distracting instead of interesting and enjoyable.
It is time to pick out your flowers that will last into spring. It is important to get those flowers into the ground so they can get established before the real cold season hits. Here are some nice flower choices for areas that get at least six hours of direct sunlight: calendula, delphinium, dusty miller, galliardia, geranium, holly hock, larkspur, nasturtium, ornamental cabbage, kale, petunia, poppies, snapdragon, statice, stock, sweet pea, and toad flax.
Sometimes you have a shady area that could benefit from some color. If you have an area that gets at least four hours of direct sunlight, try out the following flowers: viola, pansy, alyssum, diascia, and columbine. If you have an even shadier area that requires color, try out the following flowers: cyclamen, foxglove, primrose, forget-me-not, and lobelia.
Some cool season plants will bloom in fall, lose their blooms, and bloom again in spring. Think of these as getting double for what you paid for and enjoy the show. The extra root development will lend itself to much larger blooms in spring.
Last month we had an exceptional amount of rain. It felt like the sun had abandoned us for some weeks. Since we had so much rain, small drainage problems in your yard may have become large drainage problems. Here are some common drainage solutions to your frequent drainage problems.
How to fix the unwanted new pond in my yard?
Large areas holding water are caused by poor grading. If possible, you will need to level that part of your yard to slope toward a desired area to drain. If using large equipment on your yard is not possible or desired, an underground drain can be installed to move the water elsewhere. These drains usually tie into a pipe and leads to the closest road.
How to stop my landscape beds from getting washed out?
Excessive water from your roof causes a lot of wash outs. Installing gutters is a quick solution to capturing most of the water and moving it elsewhere. Another solution is to use rocks at the drip line of your roof. The rocks will break the water’s fall and guide it toward a more desirable drainage area like a small creek during rain storms.
How to stop the water from sitting on the foundation of my home?
Landscape beds and poor grading can cause water to sit next to your home's foundation. Sometimes, simply making a trench through your bed can allow the water to drain. A small pipe can also be inserted into the bed to let the water pass through. A more involved approach would be to install a french drain along the side of your home. This include water permeable layers on top and a drainage pipe beneath that leads out to a different area. The top is usually a rock layer which looks appealing to you at the rear of your landscape beds.
How to keep the water from pooling on my walkways?
Water sits on your walkways longer if the areas surrounding it are higher than the path. Also, the path should have been given a slight angle to drain toward a road or drainage area. If these were not done originally, drainage gutters can be added along side the pathway. These are covered with decorative drain caps so they add or enhance the pathway. Another solution is to add a drain to the center of the location holding water.
If you have a problem with standing water in your yard, please contact us today for a free drainage quote.
This is the time to prepare your grass for the dormant season. This means that your grass will no long spread out and fill in thin areas, so don’t do anything that can cause damage. This includes excessive core aeration or dethatching. Save that for spring. If you need to fill in an area of open ground, use sod in early October so it has time to root into the ground. Anytime later and you are likely to have dormant sod sitting on top of your soil until the following spring.
Switch your fertilizer away from high nitrogen varieties. Nitrogen promotes growth and your grass is finished growing for the year. You will only fertilize weeds and fungus if you apply high nitrogen fertilizers now. Instead, fall lawn care requires the use of fertilizer that contains a lot of potassium and low nitrogen. The potassium will help fortify the grass against winter damage so it will look better next spring.
A lot of your summer weeds will die off soon until next year, but winter brings its own set of weeds. Most winter weeds are not as problematic as summer weeds. They do stick out like a sore thumb since they are green in a lawn of winter yellow. Apply a pre-emergent now that targets winter weeds so those weed seeds never even have the chance to grow. Read the product label and follow it.
There are some bugs that can cause problems in fall. Both sod webworms and army worms can cause a lot of damage quickly. Look for grass that has bite marks and for small moths flying out of the grass when you mow. If you see these signs, treat the area with a product labeled for your grass type and the worms mentioned. Sometimes these insects have already laid their eggs, so you will need to check and see if the problem returns in a couple weeks and retreat as necessary.
Fall is the time for lawn fungus. You may have noticed mushrooms in your flower beds already. Circular yellow-brown rings in your lawn are a sure sign of fungus. Brown patch and take-all patch are the usual culprits around south Louisiana. These two fungi can cause some real damage to your yard if left untreated. If you notice the circular pattern in your yard, get some fungicide from the hardware store and treat it early. The area inside the circle is most likely dead already, so you are simply trying to prevent the patch from spreading further. These areas will be thin next spring and primed for weeds to take hold. If you have had a problem in the past with these fungi, we recommend applying preventative fungicide treatments every two weeks during October.
Are you tired of looking at a drab yard during the winter? If you would like some green grass this cool season, October is when you want to spread out some rye grass seed. This cool season grass will look great in the winter and will die off on its own when the weather warms up. If you decide to do this, make sure your pre-emergent does not prevent rye seed from germinating. This is a common mistake which causes people to waste their time and money since they are killing the seed they want to grow. There are a few varieties of rye seed. Look for one that stays low as it grows. You will get the benefit of green grass without the need to cut it during the winter.
Twenty two giant sized men run around and tackle each other on a natural grass field for a couple of hours during a football game. They come back and do this between two and three times per month for an entire football season. How is it that the grass looks really good when it probably shouldn’t even be alive at the end of the season?
First, preparation is key. The right choice of grass makes all the difference. For the climate in both Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and other parts of south Louisiana, a hybrid Bermuda grass can take a lot of damage and regrow in a matter of days. Soil composition which allows easy movement of water, air, and roots will shorten recovery times after field use.
Off season core aeration and top dressing keep the field healthy during use later in the year. Actively reducing soil compaction in the off season allows for some great root development. Top dressing the soil will even out the low spots the field created by players repeated use during football season.
Next is prevention. Regular overseeding during the entire season keeps a continuous supply of new grass to replace the damaged areas. The players cleats help to sow the new seeds. The new grass seeds get plenty of nutrition and sunlight on a low cut field and start growing quickly.
Irrigation lets us fill in mother nature’s gaps. Sunlight and water go a long way in promoting growth for grass. Complete, consistent coverage for the playing field is vital. This is paired with great subsurface drainage to get the roots enough water, but not too much water.
Fertilization gives stressed grass what it needs to grow. Maintaining an accurate fertilization program keeps the grass growing and green. With the right fertilizer, irrigation and sunlight, hybrid Bermuda grass is a growth monster. Bare areas will be covered with grass in a weeks time.
The last tool is replacement. Replacing is usually the most expensive option, but is necessary at times. This typically means installing new sod to a very damaged area right after a game and nursing it’s root growth. If you have a very rough area of grass, focus on the repairs when there is an off week or an away game. The extra week of care will really show on the next home game.
Continuous wet weather leads to the right conditions for Entomosporium leaf spot to develop on your Indian Hawthorne bushes. Look for small, reddish-purple dots on new leaves that seem to die in the center of the spots. Yellow outlines will form on the outline of the spots. Later you will see the leaves turning red and falling off. This leaves your Indian Hawthorne with a lot less leaves and looking really unhealthy.
This fungus lives on the leaves that are infected and also on the surface of the ground. If you catch it early, remove the infected leaves. Like most fungi, removing select branches and allowing more airflow will let the plant dry quicker. This creates a less pleasant place for the fungus. Also remove the old leaves that have fallen to the ground.
Fungicides will help in controlling Entomosporium leaf spot. Use it about every two weeks when the weather keeps the area wet and the temperature is not hot enough to dry out the plant leaves quickly. Spring and Fall are prime time for this fungus to develop. If you continue to have problems with this disease year after year, consider replacing your plants with a different species.
You have a great looking lawn. The grass is cut regularly. It gets fertilized a few times a year. It gets watered during a drought. The weed control takes care of most of the weeds, but there are a few problems that persist. In both Baton Rouge and New Orleans, nutsedge and lespedeza can be a hard weed to get rid of from your yard. We'll go through a little bit about each weed here and some tips on weed control.
How to Identify Sedge Weeds
Sedge is a general name for a group of weeds that includes purple nutsedge, yellow nutsedge, and kyllinga. We tend to have a problem with purple nutsedge and kyllinga in south Louisiana. You can identify sedge weeds easily since they are a lighter green than the surrounding grass and they grow taller than grass in a much shorter time. Sedges have a triangular stem, meaning they have three points on the base growing from the ground. Sedges look like thin grass blades until they form a group of three leaves on top which then spouts a flower.
Sedges maintain a root system of rhizomes that average a full foot or more below the ground. The root systems can spread into a patch of sedge measuring between eight and twelve feet. These rhizomes extend to what appear to be new sedge plants growing close to one another, but are actually the same plant. The root system is also attached to starchy "nutlets" that provide plenty of food when the weed is cut. These plants are perennial, meaning you will see them during the summer every year until you get rid of the weed for good.
How to Get Rid of Sedge Weeds
First, you should manage the environmental conditions of your yard. Sedges like poorly drained soil that stays moist. If you have a problem with sedges, try filling in low spots or using aeration and top dressing with sand. Second, you may be mowing your grass too low. The lowest setting on your mower should not be used to cut grass except for maybe bermudagrass. Try raising your mower setting up to one of the higher settings. The grass should thicken up and look healthier, which will crowd out the weeds. Surprisingly, your grass will actually grow more slowly since it will not have to grow as aggressively each week to gather sunlight.
How to kill the sedge in your grass? Visit a local hardware store or nursery. Seek a "sedge killer" product that is labelled as safe to use on your grass variety. Most sedge control products require at least two applications spaced a few weeks apart. You will most likely need to do the same treatment again the following year to get full control of the weed. We use products like Certainty and Sedgehammer.
How to Identify Lespedeza Weeds
Lespedeza grows into thick sections called mats. It branches out into leaves of three along the ground. Lespedeza is a summer annual. It grows leaflets out of veins which tend to grow at right angles from the main stem along the ground. If confused by the description, just compare your weed to the one pictured above.
How to Get Rid of Lespedeza Weeds
Cultural control of lespedeza involves aerating compact soils and not cutting your grass too low. Lespedeza thrives in compact soils. It also grows lower to the ground than grass, so it suffers when the grass makes shade over it. If you have a persistent lespedeza problem, check your soil pH. This weed will out perform grass if the soil pH is off balance.
Control products can be found in your local hardware store for use when controlling lespedeza. Carefully read the product label for heat restrictions. Certain products, like three-way herbicides, work well at eliminating weeds, but can burn your grass if used in the middle of summer in Louisiana. These product's results will vary. Products containing Metsulfuron are very effective in getting rid of lespedeza in St. Augustine, Centipede, and Bermuda lawns. A professionally available product called Celsius WG also controls lespedeza with impressive results. Always read and follow the label when dealing with herbicides.
If you have an underground irrigation system, you may have some maintenance to do occasionally. One of the common problems that start with older systems are irrigation pop up heads that stay up even when the system shuts off. This is usually due to any of a few reasons. First, a build up of calcium deposits from the water is common. Second, an abundance of dirt may have worked its way into the irrigation head. Both of these problem may have a DIY solution.
Twist the irrigation cap. Take out the entire riser and clean it off. Clean out any dirt in the body also. Turn on the water or the station controller to flush out the line of any debris that may be stuck in it. This alone may work if it is just some extra dirt. If this still doesn’t work, a short term solution would be to brush some petroleum jelly onto the riser. Push the riser up and down and put it back into the irrigation body. Test it out by pulling it up and see if it goes down on its own now.
If that doesn’t work, you may have some bad springs or other parts. At this point, replace the sprinkler head completely. It wouldn’t be worth the extra time trying to match up the correct spring type. Also, your irrigation head is so old at this point, something else will break soon anyway.
To change the sprinkler head, cut a small six inch section in the soil around the irrigation head. Be careful to not break the irrigation line underneath. Use a shovel to lift the grass off the top and set aside so you can replace it later.
Dig down until you can see the water supply pipe and have cleared away all the soil around the riser. Unscrew the old sprinkler body and discard it. Be careful to not let dirt go into the pipe! Use some plumber’s tape and screw the new body onto the pipe by hand.
Turn on the water for a moment to flush the pipe again and shut off. Insert the filter and screw on the nozzle. Twist the nozzle to aim where you want to spray. Replace the fill dirt you removed earlier. Put the grass back on top to make it look as good as possible. It will look better later as it grows back together.
Turn on the irrigation system and make sure everything works. If you do not see water blasting out of the ground or a new pocket of water rising up in a mound, your system should be ready to work for a long time to come.
If you need irrigation repair and live in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, or anywhere in between in Louisiana, contact us today.
If you want to grow some plants from seed, sow some cucumbers, squash, southern peas, or okra. Plant pumpkin seeds in the first half of July to have them ready in October. Enjoy fresh pumpkin pies, pumpkin soups, and Jack-o-lanterns.
July is a really good time to plan out your fall garden. Buy or order your seeds you will want to plant. Plan to plant broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, or collard greens. You can start seedling trays in early August for these and later transplant them to your garden.