Albuquerque Yard and Garden Tips

How to Maintain Your Albuquerque Area Yard

   Aug 12

August ‘To-Do’ List

 

We couldn’t be more excited that we actually got rain last month!  We know it’s been a long time so for those of you who forgot what rain is, it’s the wet stuff that falls from the sky.  Rain can help the yard in ways that your average watering just can’t compare to.  You’ve probably noticed that since the rain, the lawn may look greener, the bedding plants have grown faster, and the weeds have taken off in size and numbers.  That is because the rain contains nitrates that are 100% natural and since the nitrates are already dissolved, they have an amazing effect on your yard.  That will influence this months’ checklist…

Weeds are everywhere!

Plants love a good rainfall; unfortunately, so do weeds.  It’s only after a good week or so of rain that you notice how much weed seed you really had just waiting to get wet and germinate.  Not only weed seed, but also unwanted grass seed that you didn’t even know you had in your beds and gravel.  Usually at this point, hand weeding is not an option anymore (unless you’re lucky and it’s not too bad).  It’s time to consider chemical applications to get those weeds under control.


 

Get another burst of flowers

Make sure to keep up with the deadheading.  The rain helps jumpstart flowers and encourages new blooms to appear.  Check for and remove spent flowers to allow new blooms, which may continue to appear well into September.

What should be pruned?deadheadingroses

This month you can relax a bit on the pruning.  We are experiencing temperatures that most trees definitely don’t like to be trimmed in.  However, some flowering shrubs may be ready to trim.  For example, Spanish Brooms and Forsythia should be done blooming those vibrant yellow flowers, so now would be the time to remove branches with spent flowers and add some shape to the shrub (never prune them before or during flowering).  Pruning on other shrubs should be restricted to  crossing branches, unsightly stragglers and deadwood.

 

 


 

Protect the grass

When it comes to extreme heat, make sure you’re taking the proper measures to protect your lawn.  Keep the lawn longer in the heat.  Cutting it too short lets moisture escape and causes the lawn to burn.  When mowing, however, make sure you are only taking off 1/3 of the total length.  Cutting any shorter can damage the grass.

As usual, this is just a small portion of what should be done this month.  Give us a call at 836-4000 to see what other services should be done or to schedule us to help you out.

 


   Aug 12

Got Compost? Learn the essential steps of composting…

Do you have a compost pile or bin? Have you been thinking about getting one or making your own?  Compost is very beneficial to the yard.  Not only does it create rich nutrient soil but it will cut down on the amount of household waste.  Here are the essential steps of composting….images (8)

Pick a level location about 5 feet square, preferably out of direct sunlight and away from roof drainage. Then clear the ground of grass. Pile up the material directly on this spot, or put it in a composting bin or tumbler- bought at your local home center. You can also build a simple enclosure from chicken wire, scrap lumber, or cinder blocks. Make it about 3 feet square, and leave gaps in the sides to let air circulate.

Building a compost pile is a bit like following a recipe: You need to mix the right ingredients in the right amounts. A compost pile needs “browns” and “greens,” shorthand for carbon- and nitrogen-based plant material, respectively, to feed microbes as they break down the scraps. Browns can include leaves, twigs, and wood chips, as well as shredded newsprint and cardboard. Greens would be fruit and vegetable scraps, grass clippings, and, not so obviously, coffee grounds and eggshells. Layer browns and greens in roughly equal amounts in your pile. Be sure to chop up or shred bulky stuff like branches first, so it’s easier to break down. Store food scraps indoors in a sealed container before emptying it into your pile. When you start cutting the grass in springtime, you can add the clippings as long as you don’t treat your lawn with pesticides, which could kill the needed microbes.

Microbes have a hard time breaking down things like cheese, butter, milk, cooking oil, or scraps of meat. So avoid using your pile as a trash bin—add only fruit and veggie bits. Animal waste from Fido or Fluffy doesn’t belong in there either. Besides, you don’t want this sort of stuff sitting around  outside; itdownload (1) smells bad as it rots and attracts vermin. Enough said.

Aerate the pile with a pitchfork or shovel (or by turning a compost tumbler) about once a week to distribute air  and moisture. Or invest in a compost turner, which has a long straight handle and a “paddlelike” bottom to  make turning easier in a bin that’s hard to maneuver a shovel inside. Adding loose, lightweight materials like  bark mulch helps create air pockets that prevent compaction. Keep in mind that if the microbes don’t get  enough oxygen, they’ll produce hydrogen sulfide, which gives off a telltale rotten-egg stink—so don’t let your  pile get to this point.

Your pile should be as damp as a wrung-out sponge—any wetter and the microbes won’t get enough air. As you add each layer of browns and greens, lightly mist the pile with a garden hose sprayer or a watering can. You can test the compost by squeezing a handful of it (wear gloves if you don’t want to get messy). If water drips out, turn the pile a few times to let moisture evaporate. You may notice a few worms in that handful. Never fear—they’re a sign of a healthy pile.

Even in chilly weather, the pile will get warm as the microbes chomp away. You may even see steam rising from it—this is normal. Ideally, the pile’s internal temperature shodownload (2)uld be between 105 and 145 degrees F. You can use an elongated soil thermometer to take its temperature. A too-hot pile should be aerated, and it may need more material. If the pile is too cool, it may benefit from a sprinkling of packaged compost starter, available at garden centers. The starter provides an added dose of microbes; use it anytime decomposition slows down.

 

Finished compost looks like rich organic soil—dark and crumbly in texture, with no large chunks of material.

To check if yours is ready, grab a handful, put it in a pot, and place a few grass seeds in it. If they sprout within a week, your compost is “cooked” and ready to spread. So go on….dig in!

 


   Jul 02

Have pets? Know your poisonous plants!

The weather is beautiful and every store in town with a garden section is stocked up with tons of shrubs, flowers and bedding plants.  What a wonderful time of year!  We love to see yards full of new plants.  However, if you have pets that will be in the yard, you need to be careful what you are planting.  Some plant specimens may look beautiful and complement your yard very well, but they may also be poisonous to your pets.

plantsanddogs  When it comes to your pets, more than 700 plants species have been identified as toxic, poisonous or otherwise psychologically altering to them.  Upon ingestion of these species, issues can range from nausea and vomiting to more serious problems like shock or even death.  Do your research before buying new plants for the indoors or outdoors.  Don’t trust that a sales rep at the store will know every plant that is poisonous to pets.  The Animal Humane Society has put together a list of the most common poisonous plants and the parts of the plant that are harmful if eaten.  Go to this web address, http://www.humanesociety.org/assets/pdfs/pets/poisonous_plants.pdf or find it on our website.

 


   Jul 02

July ‘To-Do’ List

 

Say goodbye to any chance of cold weather! Say hello to dry weather mostly in the ‘90s. Summer is the start of a rough time for plants that don’t really enjoy the heat. They may need a little extra drink of water and/or mulch added to the base to help them along. As far as other tasks, here is your July yard checklist:

Time to increase watering – Use the City of Albuquerque’s “Water By The Numbers” program. Using that, you shwaterbythenumers ould be watering three days per week from June through August.

Deadhead as blooms fade – Keeping up with spent blooms and pinching or  deadheading will help to extend the flowing of the plant and give it beauty  longer into the season.

Fertilize Roses to give them another round. Roses love attention, especially this month. Along with deadheading,  you should fertilize with, believe it or not, some items you may have around the house. Use 1 cup of Magnesium  (Epsom Salt) per rose and 1 cup of Alfalfa pellets (rabbit food). For your favorite/prize roses, it’s okay to use 2 cups  of Magnesium.

Give the compost pile a turn and keep adding to it

In the veggie garden – Seed or set out Basil, Corn and Beans. Before mid-month, seed Melons, Tomatoes, Eggplant and Peppers. When planting Tomatoes, consider planting Marigolds around them (Horn wormarigold and tomatoms and other pests hate Marigolds and will leave the area alone).

Fertilize the lawn – To keep the lawn at its best, it may need some fertilizer this month (depending on your fertilizing schedule).  However, ALWAYS read the label. Too little fertilizer keeps the grass from getting its full dose of nutrients. Too much fertilizer can  burn the lawn and cause bald spots.

Weed out the weeds before they turn to seeds – Consider chemical applications of pre/post-emergent for grass, beds and gravel areas. If no chemicals are desired, inspect yard weekly for weeds and remove by hand.

Be ready to stake fast growing plants that may quickly become top-heavy.

These are only a handful of tasks that should be taken care of this month.  Call us at 836-4000 for more details or to schedule us to take care of your checklist for you.

 


   Jul 02

It’s Hot…How’s The Yard Doing?

Anyone who’s from New Mexico or has at least lived here for a while knows that July and August can put up some seriously brown_patch_fungus_174115448_std-300x1831hot temperatures.

Not only do we get extreme heat, we get pretty dry as well.  Now this doesn’t really phase us too much because we’re used to it.  We just get inside where we have air conditioning.  But what about your lawn?  What about all of your trees and shrubs?  Improper care over the next couple months can seriously harm your landscape.

Let’s start with a few of the symptoms of heat stress.  First off, let’s look at the trees and shrubs.  The most common sign of tree and shrub heat stress is wilting of the leaves.  This can be the result of three related issues:

  1. Lack of water
  2. A pest problem
  3. Over-fertilizing

Lack of water is the issue we experience most, and the one that is most easily solved.  If you’ve developed a pest problem, it is most likely due to an extended period of stress on the plant making it weak and easily attacked by pests (pest applications should help this).  And finally, over-fertilizing a plant because it looks stressed can cause problems that may take a long time for the specimen to recover from, if it does at all. Bare in mind that over-watering can be just as bad for a plant.Powerraking

 All of those problems can take hold of the lawn as well, although the signs of heat stress are obviously different.  What you are looking for in the lawn to identify heat stress or related issues is drying of the grass blade’s tips, or browning of an area or the entire lawn,  The obvious fix is to give the lawn more water, but be careful doing so, as too much water can lead to fungus or pest problems.

 ThereThatch[1] are a few more things you can do to make sure your lawn is going to  be healthy.  First, make sure your irrigation is working properly (this  goes for trees and shrubs as well).  Check each zone and make sure it is watering properly and getting  adequate coverage.  Next, don’t mow it short.  Raise the height of your mower to leave the grass just a little  longer in the summer.  This will keep the intense heat from getting to the roots.  Finally, don’t stress the lawn  more with dethatching (removing a layer of dead grass) in summer, excessive fertilizer or high traffic  continuously in the same area.

One thing to understand when it comes to heat stress in New Mexico is that it is very common and normal to have slight symptoms of it in the summer.  A temporary wilting of leaves until watering or a minor browning of the lawn is natural.  If the symptoms persist, it’s time to act.  Call us at 836-4000 if you have any questions or need help fixing or even diagnosing a potential issue.


   Jun 19

June ‘To-Do’ List

Say goodbye to any chance of cold weather! Say hello to dry weather mostly in the ‘90s. June is the start of a rough time for plants that don’t really enjoy the heat. They may need a little extra drink of water and/or mulch added to the base to help them along. As far as other tasks, here is your June yard checklist:

Time to increase watering  Use the City of Albuquerque’s “Water By The Numbers” program. Using that, you should be watering three days per week in June through August, not between the hours of 11am and 7pm.

Deadhead as blooms fade  Keeping up with spent blooms and pinching or deadheading will help to extend the flowing of the plant and give it beauty longer into the season.

Give the compost pile a turn and keep adding to it

Fertilize Roses to give them another round   Roses love attention, especially this month. Along with deadheading, you should fertilize with, believe it or not, some items you may have around the house. Use 1 cup of Magnesium (Epsom Salt) per rose and 1 cup of Alfalfa pellets (rabbit food). For your favorite/prize roses, it’s okay to use 2 cups of Magnesium.

 

In the veggie garden: Seed or set out Basil, Corn and Beans. Before mid-month, seed Melons, Tomatoes, Eggplant and Peppers. When planting Tomatoes, consider planting Marigolds around them (Horn worms and other pests hate Marigolds and will leave the area alone).

Fertilize the lawn    To keep the lawn at its best, it may need some fertilizer this month (depending on your fertilizing schedule).

However, ALWAYS read the label. Too little fertilizer keeps the grass from getting its full dose of nutrients. Too much fertilizer can burn the lawn and cause bald spots.

Weed out the weeds before they turn to seeds    

Consider chemical applications of pre/post-emergent for grass, beds and gravel areas. If no chemicals are desired, inspect yard weekly for weeds and remove by hand.

Be ready to stake fast growing plants that may quickly become top-heavy

These are only a handful of tasks that should be taken care of this month. Call us at 836-4000 for more details or to schedule us to take care of your checklist for you.

 


   Jun 19

A Common Pond Question…

Here’s a common question we get about ponds this time of year:

     “My pond is losing a lot of water lately. It started when the heat really kicked in. I’ve been needing to add water almost daily. Should I be concerned about a leak or is this just natural evaporation?”

 

Pond water evaporation in Albuquerque is quite normal. It is a combination of several factors that make the rate of evaporation higher or lower. First is location. Ispond the pond in full sun, partial shade or full shade? The more sun the pond gets, the more you’re going to lose water to evaporation. Next, does the pond have a waterfall and/or stream and how big is it? Waterfalls and streams spread water out and provide a shallow surface area. The larger the waterfall and/or stream, the more water you’ll lose. Also, what is the size of the surface area of the pond basin? More surface, more loss. Finally, what kind of temperature and relative humidity is happening? Albuquerque is no stranger to high temperatures and little to no humidity. High temperatures obviously contribute to evaporation, but consider this – with little humidity, more water will be absorbed into the atmosphere. I’ve actually heard of ponds in our area with large basins and a large waterfall losing, are you ready for this..? as much as 19 gallons per hour!

However, there is always a possibility of leak so if you’re not sure we’d be happy to check for you. Also, we can install a pond autofill that will always keep that pond at the desired level. Feel free to call us at 836-4000 so we can get you on the schedule.

 

 


   Jun 05

Yard Care…The Chemical Aspect: Be sure when it comes to chemical applications…

When the seasons change, you can almost feel it in the air…that urge to get out and do something in the yard.  Unfortunately, what many people end up doing sometimes leads to more harm than good.

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If you insist on applying chemicals such as fertilizers, pesticides and/or weed killers yourself and do not use a professional, it is imperative that you know what you are doing and always read the label.  The serious warning labels on many pesticide products clearly indicate the hazards to songbirds, aquatic life, and humans. In a sense, using such chemicals without proper diagnosis of the problem and careful application procedures is no different than a doctor prescribing medicine with potentially serious side effects for a condition that proper diet and moderate exercise could cure.

Because yard care chemicals have come into widespread and routine use for many homeowners, there is some danger that a “healthy respect” for them has faded. Homeowners may have used yard care chemicals before without incident. When pressed for time and confronted by profuse label directions and warnings in fine print, it’s tempting to skip the instructions and just “get the job done.”  But pesticide application is not the time to overlook something important. The suffix “icide” means “to kill.” Insecticides kill insects, herbicides kill plants and fungicides kill fungus species. While greater success is realized every year in developing chemical and application methods that are more target-specific, the fact remains that pesticides sometimes kill living things other than their targets.  This is a major reason to always hire a professional to take care of your regular applications.

Lawn_Fungicide_Application_Captioned-sm

Using the wrong product, or the right product at the wrong time wastes money and needlessly releases chemicals into the environment. If an insecticide label does not indicate effectiveness against a specific pest – or is effective only during a certain stage in the pest’s life cycle – then application can end up harming the wrong thing (like honeybees).  Yet the temptation may exist when product “X” is in hand now and worked so well against another pest. However, ignoring basic label directions such as “do not apply if rain is forecast” will, at minimum, result in a chemical application that doesn’t do the job.

Safe and reliable chemical treatment of some yard care problems is definitely possible for the informed homeowner.  The key is to know plants, their pests and the chemicals you plan to use. Rather than attempting to tackle a problem you are not prepared for, it is always better to seek professional assistance and consider more natural alternatives whenever possible.  A good rule for applications is ‘when in doubt…ask.’  Call us today at 836-4000 and don’t be shy about ‘asking’.  Our Certified Applicators will be happy to answer any of your questions.  Even better, he would be happy to put you on our regular applications schedule for lawn, tree and shrub, and/or non-turf weed control programs.

 

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