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Landenberg, Pennsylvania, United States
Based in Landenberg, PA PLG offers Landscape Installation and Maintenance to Southern Chester County and Northern Delaware

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Whats All This Rain Good For?

With the record setting amounts of rain we’ve had in the past few weeks keeping lawns cut has been challenging.  But with all this rain there are many benefits, soft soil being one.  September and October are the prime months to core aerate and overseed your lawn.  Core aeration and overseeding provide visable benefits to your lawn above ground and stimulate root growth below the soil.  By aerating the lawn, you are breaking up compaction in the soil which allows water and air to move about, stimulating lawn roots.  Aeration also breaks up any thatch that has accumulated throughout the growing season.  After aeration, it is best to overseed with a Tall fescue mixture.  Be sure to check where your seed comes from, the germination rate and the Weed Seed Percentage.  Seed should be spread at approximately 5 pounds per 1000 square feet, 7-8 pounds per 1000 in bare areas.  Grass seed will need 1.5- 2 inches of watering per week and you should see germination (growth) in 2 weeks time. 
-Mike Pickel

Friday, September 16, 2011

Winterizing Your Garden and Landscape; A To Do List

When the long, cold winter begins approaching in October it is a good idea to start your winter projects.  I have heard many gardening enthusiast lamenting the fact that they never give themselves enough time to complete their projects before the long snowy seasons hits.  So here is a list (in no way is this comprehensive!) of projects and things to think about before the snow hits.
·       It is a good idea to add 2”-3” of mulch around your trees and shrubs to protect their roots from the temperature change.
·       Remember to water your lawn and plants into the fall to help saturate the ground with water.
·       Call LawnScapes to inquire about our Fall Lawn Fertilizing Programs.
·       Remove annuals from their planting beds and add any healthy plants to the compost pile.  Discard any diseased annuals.
·       Clean up and weed the annual beds.  It is a good idea to turn over the soil to allow it to lay fallow over the winter.
·       Have your soil tested so that improvements can be planned over the winter.
·       Split your bulbs, perennials, and replant
·       Remove your summer bulbs and replace with spring blooming ones
·       When raking leaves add them to your compost pile.  Shred them if possible to speed up their decomposition.
·       Prepare your pots for spring planting.  Remove the soil and plants.  Make sure to scrub and sterilize your pots thoroughly.  Dry carefully and store in a dry place to prevent them from cracking over the winter.
·       Clean up your garden tools before storing them.  Any gas powered equipment you will not be using drain the gas, change the oil, and perform any regular maintenance before storing.   
·       Be sure to remove and store your rubber hoses so that they do not split and dry out.  It is also a good idea to blow them out with an air compressor if you have access to one.
·       Think about bringing in your inside plants.  Be sure to adjust them to the warmer environment gradually by leaving them in your garage for a couple of hours a day.  Also check them thoroughly for bugs and other pest.
·       Good idea to consider applying a sealer to your paver patio, walkway, or drive to protect it from salt and the freeze/thaw.
·       Consider trimming evergreens (such as Arborvitaes) susceptible to damage from snow loads.  You can either trim and thin the branches (very selectively) or tie the plant up to hold the stems upright.
·       Spraying plants with an anti-desiccant will protect them from drying out in the persistent wind we receive in Southeastern, Pennsylvania.  Anti-desiccant spray is a waxy coating that protects the foliage from drying out.
·       Wrapping plants in burlap can also help protect foliage from wind damage and burn. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

The LawnScapes Annual Primer

Annuals are plants that grow, flower, produce seeds, and die in one growing season.  They are inexpensive, easy to grow, and provide a great, big, splash of color.  Most annuals provide a longer lasting flowering display than perennials or bulbs.  A wonderful variety can be purchased from any Lowe’s, Home Depot, or local garden shop.  Annuals are usually sold in “flats” consisting of about 12 plants.  When purchasing avoid plants that are already in full bloom.  Plants in full bloom will take longer to become established once planted.  Make sure not to purchase any flowers with pale or yellow leaves.  Leaf color can identify whether the plants have been over/under, fertilized or watered.  Annuals can be planted in beds, containers, or flower beds for a display of color and a supply of cut flowers.
            Set aside a day for planting annuals because it is important to plant them as soon as possible.  If you cannot plant them the day of purchase, be sure to place the flats in a location that gets plenty of sun.  Be sure to water them thoroughly until you plant them.  Before planting soak the soil of the bed where you are planting.  Dig a hole and plant the annual no deeper than it was in the pot from the nursery.  Break the roots up gently before placing in the hole.  By breaking up the roots, you encourage new root growth and place more roots in contact with the soil.  Once finished planting, water the bed thoroughly.  When planting in hot, sunny weather shade your plant for the first couple of days to prevent wilting and remove in late afternoon.  If you have deer problems, or your animals eat flowers, spray with “Liquid Fence.”  This is a product, made of all natural products that animals do not like the smell of.  It will need to be re-applied after any rainstorm. 
            During the growing season be sure to “deadhead” to remove faded flowers and encourage new blooms to form.  Once flowering has ceased remove the plants and compost any that are not diseased.  Prepare your soil in late fall by turning it over and tilling in rich compost or worm castings.  By following these, easy step you will have an amazing display of flowers all season long. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Amending Your Soil

First you must determine the composition of your soil before you amend it.  The best way to determine what to add to your soil is to have it analyzed by an expert.  Pennsylvania State University has an Agricultural Research and Extension Center in most counties.  They can recommend amendments based on the results of the test. 
            Slightly acidic soil around 6.5 pH, is best for most plants, though there are exceptions.  Adding decaying organic matter raises the acidity of your soil, and because of this most garden soil is slightly acidic already.  To raise the alkalinity (raise the pH) use finely ground limestone.  To raise the acidity of an alkaline (basic) soil add flowers of sulfur.  Both of these products are commonly available at large hardware stores and garden centers.  The amount and rate of application of these materials depends on the texture of the soil.  Be careful to only add as much corrective material recommended by a reliable soil test.  The general rule of thumb for adding material to your soil is that you can always add more but you can take it away.  It is very important to raise or lower your soil’s pH level slowly, preferably over a couple of years.  Try to change it too much, too quickly and the soil can swing dangerously in the opposite direction. 
            There are 16 elements known to be required for healthy plant growth.  The main three, Carbon, Hydrogen, and Oxygen, come from the air and water.  All of the rest come from the soil.  Most of the remaining 13 elements are needed in such minute quantities that they are rarely depleted from the soil.  Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K) are the exceptions to the rule.  Plants use these element the most and because of this they are depleted from soil on a regular basis.  Plants use Nitrogen to make protein, control their form, and help them use carbohydrates.  Plants that are experiencing a Nitrogen deficiency are commonly, thin, spindly, and the older leaves tend to be yellowish green.  Phosphorous helps plants set buds and flower.  Phosphorous facilitates energy storage, efficient water use, and root growth.  Phosphorous deficiency in plants is characterized by bluish-green leaf colorization and stunted growth.  Plants use Potassium to provide disease resistance, make carbohydrates, and regulate metabolic activity.  Generally plants take up five to ten times more Potassium compared to Phosphorous and Nitrogen.  Lacking Potassium plants generally have roots that are not well formed and possess leaves that appear burned.  All fertilizers have a “NPK” rating representing the availability of Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium (by weight) making up the bag.  For example a 100 pound bag of 10-10-10 fertilizer contains 10 lbs of N, 10 lbs of P, 10 lbs of K, with the remaining 70 lbs being filler material.  Three other important nutrients of Calcium (used in cell membranes), Magnesium (metallic component of chlorophyll), and Sulfur (helps the plant create proteins).  These are usually needed in minute quantities and are plentiful in rich, loamy garden soil.          
Important Resource:
Penn State Cooperative Extension (Chester County Branch)
601 West Town Road, Suite 370
West Chester, PA 19380-0990
Phone: 610.696.3500
Fax: 610.696.4831
Office Hours: 8:30 am- 4:40 pm
A basic soil test costs about $9.00 but you can pay for additional tests.  The forms and instructions for a soil test can be found on their website.