What this weather means for your plants and lawn in 2017

From what we’ve seen so far, winter isn’t going to amount to much. Snowfall will be light and brief, but lots of icing and warmer days in between. Here’s a snow prediction map put out by SIMA (Snow & Ice Management Association). NOAA predicts Atlantic flows which usually bend north of us following I-95 like we’ve seen so far this season.

And that looks like the story for this year.  Small storms with mostly ice and minimal accumulations.  We still think 1 or 2 storms will come up the coast parking 4-6″ of snow on us but no big blizzards this year.

SO WHAT’S THAT MEAN FOR YOUR PLANTS?

From the plants perspective, hibernation is being constantly interrupted.  Not good.  Plants are on an accelerated cycle of growth which will leave them vulnerable to freeze.  They are being tricked into growth mode by the weather.  Right now we are seeing bulbs popping up all over the place.

bulbs, winter bloomers, weather in mid atlantic 2017

What are these bulbs thinking?

Oh, and that fuzzy thing in the front…WEED!  Prepare to see a lot of them in 2017.

Weed seeds were dropped in the Fall and they usually attack in spring, but they’re out already.  Weeds will reseed again and be completely off cycle by spring, so expect a bumper crop of WEEDS!  Treating gardens with a Pre-emergent like Snapshot will provide blanket coverage of mulched beds, but you might have to pick/spray to eliminate the early risers and clean up before you apply pre-emergent .

Pre-M for lawns is a must in 2017.  

  • Application of Pre-M timing will be late March and again in May.
  • Two applications will be necessary to catch the various weeds because they have different, and now interrupted cycles.
  • Broadleaf weeds will be everywhere in the lawns this year.  Expect dandelions and crabgrass to grow like you planted it on purpose.
  • During the season, additional spray treatments to control most other weeds will be highly recommended, so be prepared to do extra in 2017.
  • A solid fertilization and weed control plan will keep things mostly under control.

 

dandylion, weed controls,

Common Dandelion

BOXWOOD BLIGHT

At the end of last season, many growers and homeowners were experiencing sudden declines in their staple foundation plants.  Namely, boxwoods. The fungus that causes box blight is known as Cylindrocladium buxicola.  the sticky fungal pathogens can be transferred by rain and overhead watering, pruning tools, pets, peoples clothing, etc.

boxwood blight, blight, fungicide

Blight noted by circular spots with brown to purple outer ring

Some of our favorites like the Wintergem and Wintergreen’s will be either unavailable or require so much care that they will not be priced well.  We are told that Korean Boxwoods somehow seem to have not been affected by the blight.  Still, substitutes are available.

Blight can spread to neighboring plants and damage occurs very quickly.  The plant will be streaked with brown stems as leaves die back.  Plants do not recover from blight.  Fungicides will help control, but will not eliminate the blight.  Fungicides can mask the problem as spores have adapted and may return requiring frequent plant inspection, especially right after a rain.  Often the offended plant must be removed and destroyed.  A word of caution:  Dumping the plant in your woods or compost pile will allow the spores to continue to thrive.

This goofy weather will be causing very unusual issues, so keep an eye on everything and consult your landscaper often.  Timing will not be typical so reaction times need to be quick.

WHAT ELSE  COULD GO WRONG BECAUSE OF THE WEATHER?

Well, the summer should be hot for all the beach goers!

Irrigation systems will need to monitored to avoid overwatering and causing fungus and disease in the heat and humidity.  3 days a week for about an inch of water is enough for an established fescue lawn.  Low volume drip is recommended for planting beds.  Newer models of

Mowing should be done at a full 3.5″ height.  Lower cutting looks neater but exposes the crown of the plant and makes it more susceptible to disease.

If you aren’t sure about your soil, a sample sent to the lab will evaluate all the nutrients and let you know what’s missing.  This can affect the balance of fertilization needed and is an important step in any lawn care program.  Typically soil tests cost about $65.

If you get all that under control, Have a Crab Feast!

blue crab, carbcakes,

Eat some Crabs!

What happened to the Lights?

 

We are back to work busily preparing for the possibility of snow and designing the projects that will be done this coming season, but something is missing.  This time of year it is noticeably getting dark a lot earlier.  My body clock can’t get used to it. It seems like it is dark most of the time.  Winter days are often referred to as the grey days.  It’s like someone flipped a switch.

So what if we used Outdoor Lighting as a form of Winter Gardening?  During the summer it stays light until all hours and the sun is up way too early in the morning for most of us.  But what about bringing some life back to the winter grey?  There is still plenty going on in the gardens and the trees have a completely different appeal that you cannot see during the summer.  Maybe we could make your landscaping more warm and inviting; Alive.

Outdoor LED Lighting

I always say that if you are going to spend money on landscaping then you should be able to enjoy it all year long.  Personally, I leave before the sun comes up and get home well after it has set most days.  Except for a few Sundays when I do the maintenance on my own house, I hardly see the landscape.  But, there is something peaceful about turning up the driveway and seeing the architecture of your own home lit up, the beauty of the landscape you’ve invested in, and there is the safety factor of being able to see where you are going.  A sense of peace when you return home.  An invitation to forget all the days worries and prepare to greet your family.

Fire Pits

Fire pits and larger fireplaces offer an extra opportunity to be outdoors and skip out on some reality tv.  They can be wood burning or gas/propane.  Often they are the center of the family’s entertaining and AMJ has all the people to make it happen and extend your enjoyment of your Landscape.

With the advent of warm white lamps, LED Outdoor Lighting has moved from that blue haze to a truly beautiful light that uses only pennies worth of electricity compared to the standard Halogen lighting of just a few years ago.

Landscape Lighting - Walkway Steps

And there is nothing wrong with leaving some holiday style lights on the bushes through March.  They also don’t cost much to run if  you use LEDs and who cares if the neighbors think you are lazy.  They are inside hibernating anyway.   I’m not saying the snow globe penguins should still be out there but a little lighting on the roof line or in the shrubs is nice.

I know a garden center in Detroit and the owner goes all out making decorations with greens, so the outdoor pots have something in them for this time of year. She uses LED lighting in every display to keep the season going.  Deborah says, “My advice this January morning is to stay warm and plug something in.”  I agree!