Summertime Already?

in Design, Landscape, Past Postings, Pest Management, Plants | 0 comments

Summer Is Here   Greetings Crew, How was your spring? We would describe it with one word…”exhausting”. Our landscaping company is beginning to finally catch up on pruning and weed control. This is pretty much on schedule. Spring explodes into green growth with weeds, shrubs, and trees. It seems like three weeds pop up for every one that we pull. This is somewhat true. In the soil, thousands of dormant seeds are waiting for the right conditions to germinate. As we disturb the soil by tilling, or pulling weeds, seeds may travel to the surface. These seeds are suddenly in perfect germination conditions. Vines, like English Ivy take for the skies up tree trunks, fences, and any vertical structure within reach. It’s obviously easier to stay on top of smaller properties, but larger properties are more challenging. Nature is often like chasing a gang of rogue two-year-olds. The minute you get one mess cleaned up, you turn to find another in the making. Spring often brings extreme weather conditions that knock deadwood, pine cones/needles, and leaves to the ground. This debris removal, on top of weed control, pruning, edging, and mulching can  make it hard to “stop and smell the roses”. Now we are into summer and the heat has set in. In Virginia, we have already had record temperatures on and near 100ºF. Gardening is generally not thought of as an athletic pursuit, but no one can deny that it is a physically challenging vocation. Author, and friend of Mark Twain, Charles Dudley Warner stated, “What a man needs in gardening is a cast-iron back, with a hinge in it.” As we move further into summer, most gardeners will refrain from planting. Installing plants in the summer heat requires more frequent watering to enable a new plant to establish. With that in mind, as the turf relaxes its explosive growth, and you begin to catch up on other chores, this is a great time to begin planning for autumn planting. Some people will research, contemplate, and validate most purchases whether it’s a new coat, or a plant. Others hop into their automobile with wallet in pocket, and go to make a purchase without forethought. We want to encourage you to take...

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Got Weed?

in Landscape, Past Postings, Pest Management, Plants | 0 comments

FIRST OFF- HAPPY MOTHERS DAY  Ahhhh Spring…The trees are blooming. The flowers are blooming. The grass is green. The birds are singing. Mothers Day is here. Look at how beautiful the garden is…wait…WHAT IS THAT?!!! GAH! It’s a weed. There’s another!…Oh Shhhh….oot!   We’re not talking about the weed making headlines in Colorado and Washington. We’re talking about those monstrous little plants, with the audacity to grow in our lawns and planting beds. Where do they come from? AAAGGGHHH…the frustration! Last weekend, we celebrated our seventeenth wedding anniversary. How did we spend it? In the garden, of course! We prepared and planted our vegetable garden. Unfortunately, an army of weeds (mostly Dandelions) had set up camp in the fallow soil. Guess we should have planted a cover crop like Winter Wheat, or Vetch. Did we reach for the herbicide sprayer? HELL NO!!! We preach the green gardening gospel here. We reached for the gardener’s best friend. This friendship will last a long time, and costs less than one bottle of concentrated herbicide.   It would be easy to gripe about the work, and cuss at the weeds. Instead, we looked at it from a different perspective. Here were some pretty flowers that we didn’t have to plant. We did not have to purchase seeds. They required no fertilizer. They just appeared out of nowhere. Why is it that we hate this little plant so? Maybe because it reproduces so quickly. It will also crowd out other plants. Being a perennial, it will return every season until the root is entirely grubbed (dug out). Okay, Dandelions have some bad qualities, but they bring children and mothers joy alike. Many a mother has received a bouquet of Dandelions from their loving child. Young children like to blow on the flower heads that have gone to seed, and watch the lightweight seeds parachute through the air. In truth, it was a win-win situation with the dandelions. The taproots run deep and loosen the soil. After some digging, we were left with soil that was well turned. We added some compost, the proper amount of organic fertilizer, and in the end no tiller was really necessary. Now we were left with a mountain of dandelions. Should we just throw them on the compost pile? We have been toying...

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Spring…At Last

in Fertilization, Landscape, Past Postings, Pest Management, Plants | 0 comments

From what we have been hearing, it seems to be unanimous that winter overstayed it’s welcome this year. Our crew members in the Northeast were blasted with record snowfall this year, while California is suffering from record drought.     Here in the Southeast, plants are blooming weeks later than normal. Better for spring to be late than never arriving though. Spring is such a wonderful time of year, with all of the many flowers, blooming shrubs, and trees. Unfortunately, it is also when the weeds seem to sprout all at once. As you’ve probably noticed, all of the fertilizer and pesticide companies are pushing their toxic products on television. This is a timely subject that we want to discuss with you. This past season, our company achieved 100% organic fertilization. We used less fertilizer, by soil testing. The turf, shrubs, and trees were all green and healthy. It was no more expensive to go organic, in fact we spent less on fertilizer last year. We are now moving toward 100% organic pest control. Finding alternatives has never been easier with the internet. As we find effective ways to contend with common pests, we will be sharing our successes. We may also be exposing any failures, to prevent someone from making the same mistake.     Something new to our site  is our Horticultural Horrors Sustainable Garden Store. We have teamed up with to bring you the products that we use and trust. The products don’t cost any more than if you buy them directly from Amazon. We receive a very small commission from each sale, which will help to defray the expenses of providing this website. In our store, you will find organic fertilizers, organic pest control, tools, and books. We will be adding more products to the store after we have tested them on a professional scale for effectiveness and/or durability.    As spring develops, many will be looking to “green-up” their lawns and gardens. Please take the time to test your soil first, then apply an organic fertilizer as necessary. You do not to want to  just broadcast a heap of high-nitrogen fertilizer to green up your grass. Two to three lighter applications, of a more balanced fertilizer, throughout the...

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How Was Your Summer?

in Design, Fertilization, Landscape, Past Postings, Pest Management, Plants, Pruning | 0 comments

Hello Crew Wow! What a summer it has been. Our landscaping company has been incredibly busy with installations, renovations, and maintenance. We’ve battled parasitic insects, fungal problems, and of course…weeds. While things have slowed momentarily before the onslaught of leaves, cool weather planting, and prepping for winter, we thought that this would be a good time to get back in touch with you…the crew.  Hopefully, this posting finds you all healthy, and your gardens in fine condition. Below you’ll find some practical advice, new resources, and an interesting story concerning an egregious horticultural horror. Horticultural Horror Recently while reading the garden section of our local newspaper we were appalled by a letter written in to the local garden columnist asking for advice. The writer began by explaining that a neighbor had planted Trumpet Vine (Campsis radicans), and it had moved onto her property. Trumpet vine is a vigorous and potentially invasive grower that can quickly get out of control without adequate attention. If you don’t want to put in the time pruning and containing it, please don’t plant it. The letter writer said she had been battling the plant, and had applied Sevin to the foliage in hopes of killing the vines. For those of you that don’t know, Sevin is an insecticide not an herbicide, and will in no way kill nor control the growth of a plant. Trumpet Vine produces an abundance of bright orangish-red trumpet shaped flowers which are a very powerful attractant to hummingbirds and other beneficial insects. In an attempt to control the vine this person, unaware of the proper chemical to use doused it with an insecticide – most likely (though unintentionally) killing many of the beneficial pollinators attracted to it. This sort of mistake is maddening! Sevin contains Carbaryl, a chemical acutely toxic to humans, marine life, amphibians, and most wildlife. The columnist, politely and respectfully replied, advising her to pull the vines, and then use an herbicide to control the new ones. Unfortunately, the columnist did not take the opportunity to point out that insecticides do not kill plants, and that this broad spectrum insecticide can cause harm to insects, wildlife and marine life (she was on a coastal property). Nor did he...

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Prevent and Eliminate Now

in Landscape, Pest Management | 0 comments

Hi Crew, Spring is in full swing, and as foliage is budding and growing, so are pests. This is the perfect time to control a lot of insects and diseases for a variety of reasons. Aphids, scales, and mites are often in young stages and are more sensitive to horticultural oils. Later, scale will develop waxy coatings, and require stronger (more toxic) pesticides for control. Grab your magnifying glass and inspect your plants for pests. Look for discolorations, funguses, insects, or anything questionable. If you find something out of the ordinary, IDENTIFY IT FIRST! Please do not run out and buy a product, until you know what the target pest is. If you cannot identify it on your own, contact your local cooperative extension office. We have compiled a contact list for all 50 states on our Resources Page. We are willing to help too.  Prevent fungal problems by not watering foliage, rather, apply the water directly to the soil. Drip irrigation, soaker hoses, and water cans make this easier. Do not crowd your plants. Air flow is important in the prevention of fungal diseases. If you do use a sprinkler, water early in the morning. This way, foliage has a chance to dry out early. While many resources recommend watering in the evening, to prevent evaporation, it will promote fungal growth. The best method is water early. The reason that we recommend non-chemical methods, is to protect the precious resources that we in America are lucky to have. Organic gardening methods promote the good, while controlling the bad. The movie below is about an hour and twenty minutes long. It is called Dirt, The Movie, and explains the importance of protecting our topsoil quite beautifully.   Get Grounded! -The HH Team Share...

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Spring Tips

in Fertilization, Landscape, Pest Management, Plants, Pruning | 0 comments

Hi Crew, Hooray…spring is here. While this is a miraculous and beautiful time of year, it is also a busy time of year for all of us. To save time, we have made a list of tips that we hope you will find helpful. Turf Maintenance: As your lawn is coming out of a dormant period, so are the weeds. If you have not read our last article about pre-emergent, post emergent, and preventative herbicides, please take the time to link to our last article: 1. As your lawn begins to grow, you will find that some areas are growing faster than others. Resist the urge to “scalp” the taller areas, to make your lawn appear one even height. Set your mower deck to cut Fescue/Cool Season lawns at 3 inches. Bermuda/Warm Season grasses  should be 1 to 2 inches. You’re patience will pay off later in the season. 2. Take it easy on the fertilizer. Again, we discussed this in our last article. Always soil test first. Even if you use an inexpensive, hardware store-type soil test kit, it is worth it.  Shrubs and Trees 1. Be prudent in insecticide usage. If you have a pest, see if Neem Oil or another horticultural oil/soap could be effective. Pollinators will be working your spring blooming plants, and pollinators are an extremely important part of the garden and are harmed by insecticides. 2. If you have a problem with bees and other stinging insects, here are a few tips. Wear white and/or neutral colors. Do not wear black. Studies have proven that honey bees are aggressive toward black clothing. This may have something to do with black bears trying to steal honey from  beehives, but the evidence is inconclusive. Avoid wearing “flowery colors”. If you look like a giant bloom walking through the yard, can you blame bees for their behavior? Do not keep sugary beverages nearby while you are working in the garden. Blooms provide nectar, a sweet and nutritious liquid, for pollinators. Your soft drink/coolaid/sweet tea is exponentially sweeter than nectar and an irresistible lure. If you find a swarm of honeybees in one of your trees, contact your local beekeepers’ group for removal. There isn’t a...

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