Now that temperatures have consistently been above 65 degrees in the evenings, it is time to start phasing out the Winter Ryegrass in your community- making way for the revitalization of Summer Bermudagrass. Here in the Arizona desert, our climate calls for two different grass species; Bermudagrass in the Summer and Ryegrass in the Winter (should you choose to overseed). This time of year the Ryegrass starts to wilt and turn brown as it dies off for the Summer and the Bermudagrass begins to sprout. There are lots of landscaping tips and tricks that YOU can do to help this transition go smoothly!
Scalping Winter Rye
It is a good practice to scalp Winter Ryegrass to about 1/2 of its typical length. This allows the heat from the sun to get through to the soil and stress the Winter grass into submission- enabling the Bermudagrass to become dominant and begin to grow.
Decreasing Water Usage
Temporarily decreasing water usage to the Ryegrass will allow it to die off. Bermudagrass thrives with less water and warmer temperatures while the Rye does not, therefore decreasing competition between the two.
Fertilizing turf using a high ammonium sulfate fertilizer weakens the Ryegrass while strengthening up and coming Bermuda. Using the right fertilization practices will not only decrease competition between the grass types but will later provide a healthy and lush Summer lawn.
While many people shy away from lawn aeration due to the unsightly holes that result, this practice is one of the best things that can be done for a transitioning lawn! Aeration allows water, oxygen, and the fertilizer to better reach the roots of the grass and will help that Bermudagrass grow in strong, healthy, and beautiful!
It is important to remember that the grass will typically appear brown/yellow and sparse during this transition time. This is perfectly normal and means that the process is underway! Being patient and allowing the grass time to go through this process will lead to amazing results and a beautiful Summer lawn!
Water, water, water! Water is one of the most important things you can give your landscape- especially in the Summer months! In fact, according to the University of Arizona College of Agriculture, plants use 3-5 times as much water during Summer as they do during Winter months. To ensure you are efficiently watering your trees as temperatures rise, you should be aware of how water absorption works, the amount of water you should be giving your tree, and the best techniques for administering that water.
Water Absorption in Trees
While many people may think the best place to water a tree is near the trunk, the most active water absorption area is actually located at the drip line and beyond. The drip line is the area that can be found under the ends of the tree’s canopy and is also known as the Critical Root Zone. This is where trees shed rain water and it works as a storage tank for the plant to draw nutrients and water from when needed. While that may seem far from the base of the tree, most tree roots actually spread 1 to 4 times as wide as the canopy!
Evapotranspiration is a process where trees can move water through their roots, branches, trunks, and leaves- ensuring that all parts of the tree receive water. In the Summer, when the temperatures are high and the ground is dry, trees find water to be a more limited resource and have to choose where to delegate that water- with the leaves typically being the ones that suffer the drought. Common signs that a tree is not absorbing enough water is yellowing/browning of leaves or complete leaf drop-off.
Amount of Water to Give Trees in the Summer
The amount of time that you should be watering your trees and plants depends on a variety of factors including the weather, soil status, size of tree/plant, and type of irrigation system. A good rule of thumb is to water the root zone at the indicated depth (based on size of the tree) and not any deeper than that so as to cause wasted water. If your soil is shallow or compacted, be sure to water more often but for less time and water younger plants more often than you would older plants to prevent wilting in the Summer months.
To make sure you are watering in a way that will not harm the tree or waste water be sure to avoid spraying water on leaves (salts in the water can harm the leaves), water your tree separately than your turf if your tree is planted in a turf area, control weeds near your trees and plants, and expand the watering area as the tree grows.
Spring has officially arrived and it is almost time to plant Summer Annuals here in the desert! However, before we can enjoy the beautiful colors that these plants bring to our landscape it is important to know the proper ways to prepare for their arrival. Preparing your landscape for Annuals is a multi-step process that includes irrigation checks, possible soil amendments, and plant replacement plans.
Proper irrigation is imperative to plant growth and health, especially here in Arizona as our Summer temperatures remain in the triple digits for the majority of the season. Annuals require a consistent supply of water due to their shallow root systems, relying on a fully working irrigation system to keep them alive and growing during the Summer months.
Most irrigation systems require constant monitoring, maintenance, and repair so it is a good idea to inspect your irrigation prior to the planting of new annuals. Some common irrigation issues that can be found include: multiple people changing the settings on the irrigation timer, broken irrigation heads, poor water pressure, and more! Checking your irrigation and ensuring that your system is working at its optimal performance prior to planting your Summer Annuals is a practice our team does out in the field and something that we encourage all residential owners to participate in when it comes to their own lawns and gardens.
Soil preparation is an important step in planting Summer Annuals and should be done a couple of weeks before planting is to be performed. To properly prepare soil it is important to ensure that it is free of debris, well drained, and obtaining adequate amounts of light. To improve soil quality, amendments are a good option!
Amendments are added to soil along with fertilizer to alter its condition and better enable plants to grow. They can change the soil in a number of ways depending on the amendment that is chosen but are used to positively impact plant growth and help the fertilizer do its job. Common types of soil amendments include lime, elemental sulfur, organic matter, ammonium sulfate, and gypsum.
Have extra landscape budget but are unsure of where to put it? Plant replacements are a great investment! Plant replacements/replenishments allow you to give your landscape a noticeable facelift and increase its value and beauty through the Summer months. Adding plants to your landscape will not only provide you with more diversity and versatility but also with fun combinations of color and texture to display.
Annual flowers are a great addition to any landscape as they are beautiful and add color, fill bare spots in a landscape, and can be changed each season to match the look that you are going for at that time. Now is the time to plant the plants you have been waiting for all Winter- be sure to get with your area manager to discuss your planting plan before it’s too late!
The state tree of Arizona, the Palo Verde, is set to bloom in late March-adding some color to our desert this season! With this tree being such a hit here in Arizona, we have decided to share some amazing facts about this special, native tree!
The Palo Verde Tree was designated as the state tree of Arizona in the year 1954.
There are two main species of Palo Verde here in our desert, commonly known as the Foothills Palo Verde and the Blue Palo Verde. The Foothills Palo Verde is known for its yellow flowers during bloom as well as for its tiny leaves and ability to grow in dry conditions. The Blue Palo Verde is more likely to be found near a water source, such as a wash, and typically has a blue-green colored trunk.
The leaves of the Palo Verde are present on the tree from Mid-Spring until around November, at which time these trees drop their leaves for the cooler months.
The Palo Verde trees have a deep root system which allows them to access ground water and helps them survive dry climates, droughts, and even flash flooding that can occur during our Arizona monsoon season.
Due to the small flowers on the tree, it does most of its photosynthesizing through its bark/trunk. This is why the trunk of both species of Palo Verde is typically a green/blue color rather than brown or tan.
The seeds and flowers of the Palo Verde tree are actually edible. In fact, it is known that they are quite sweet to taste.
Interested in installation of Palo Verdes in your master-planned community or commercial landscape? ELS is here to help!
Spring is right around the corner and with that comes the beautiful bloom of some of our favorite plants and trees here in the Valley. One noteworthy item that is expected to bloom quite early this season is the Purple Leaf Plum tree. This tree is known for its fragrant pink/purple flowers and its shrub-like shape that it takes on during bloom. It is also known as being one of the first trees to start blooming in the early Spring, with an estimated start date around the end of January for Arizona communities.
The Purple Leaf Plum tree is a great option for communities not only because of its ornamental nature and the beauty it supplies but also because it is relatively low maintenance and heat tolerant. This tree can withstand both heat and drought, common here in the Arizona desert, and thrives when there is ample sunlight. In fact, large amounts of sunlight are what makes this tree produce the beautiful pink, purple, and white flowers that it is known for.
Maintenance that can be expected for this tree species involves pruning on an annual basis and additional pruning when necessary, water and feeding practices as needed, and cleanup of fruit and leaf drop. Though this tree is beautiful with the leaves on it, this species is notorious for having quite a bit of leaf drop and should not be planted near busy walkways or sites where there is heavy foot traffic.
The Purple Leaf Plum tree is a small to mid-size tree that has a rounded growth pattern, similar to that of a shrub. Typically, its blossoms produce leaves that are 1-3 inches long and it can yield round fruit that ripens in late Summer. These trees do not always bear fruit and are typically chosen for their ornamental flowers rather than for their fruit, as fruit can attract unwanted mites and flies. These trees will need annual pruning to control flowering/fruit growth and achieve desired shape.
Keep an eye out for the bloom of the Purple Leaf Plum trees as they are sure to be the start to other bloom happening in plant species throughout your landscape!
Interested in Arbor Care for your HOA community or commercial property? Request an Arbor Bid or submit a general inquiry here.
There are a variety of turf options when it comes to the choice for your landscape, however here in the desert southwest it is important to be aware of the kinds which survive best through our hot Summers and short Winters.
We recommend choosing between Bermudagrass, Midiron, and St. Augustine for the Summer turf in your AZ landscape. These are best used in general areas and are strong warm season grasses that will survive the heat!
Breaking Down Your Options- Warm Season Turf
High heat tolerance
Grown from seed
Dormant in the Winter Months (Typically Nov.-March)
Does not always need Overseed in the Winter
Requires around 8 hours of sunlight/ a day to thrive
Maintenance Includes: Regular weed control and fertilization, mowing to ensure height of 1-3 inches, regular irrigation, and Winter Overseeding.
Thrives in shadier areas
Requires only about 3 hours of sunlight a day to thrive
Available in Sod form as well as plugs or stolons
Not a strong candidate for Overseeding but does retain some green color in the Winter months
Maintenance Includes: Regular fertilization, mowing to ensure height of 1-3 inches, no overseeding, placement in mostly-shaded areas.
High heat tolerance
Can handle quite a bit of foot traffic making it great for use in parks and high traffic areas
Requires 8 hours of sunlight per day to thrive
Available as Sod
Maintenance includes: Regular fertilization and weed control, regular irrigation, monitoring for pests and disease, Winter overseeding, and mowing to height of 1-3 inches depending on intended use.
Winter Turf Options for Your AZ Landscape
In the late Fall months it is recommended to Overseed both Bermudagrass and Mid Iron turf. When overseeding, it is important to choose a strong cold season grass that will ensure your landscape looks its best throughout the Winter. We recommend choosing between Annual and Perennial Ryegrass to Overseed your lawn.
Green color is bright and aesthetic
Heat and drought tolerant
Hardier turf than Annual Ryegrass
Take these characteristics into account when choosing the right turf for your Homeowner’s Association landscape and be sure to reach out to a professional with any questions before laying down your new turf.
For more information on the steps in Overseeding visit our article here.
Living in Arizona, you are probably familiar with Decomposed Granite. This form of rock is used in many of our local landscapes in place of turf and greenery. Decomposed granite is a byproduct of erosion of solid granite, coming in a variety of granulations. It is very similar to sand or gravel and comes in neutral colors that resemble it.
Decomposed granite is a great choice in a large community landscape such as that of a homeowners association. It is less costly than grass or artificial turf, requires less maintenance, and provides for an aesthetic backdrop for other plants and trees that are incorporated into the landscape.
As an HOA landscaping company, we have put together a simple and quick rule of thumb guide on the proper way to incorporate decomposed granite into a landscape.
Installation of decomposed granite varies depending on the location that it is being applied. For installation in landscaped areas, it is expected to be applied at a 2 inch depth after compaction. For walkways or the like, that rises to a depth of 2-4 inches.
The finer the granulation of the granite, the easier it is to compact and less pervious the surface. This is important to note when choosing where to install certain types of granite. A rule of thumb that many HOA landscaping companies have is to use finer decomposed granite for walkways and a more sized material of granite near plants and trees.
HOA Landscaping and Granite Maintenance
Maintenance for decomposed granite includes applying pre-emergent for weed control, replacing decomposed granite where depth has been impacted by foot traffic and/or erosion, and the addition of stabilizers to provide strength (if necessary).
We are fast approaching the beginning of fall where the leaves on our deciduous trees begin to change color and drop off as winter arrives. This presents the perfect opportunity for necessary pruning of the trees as they slide into dormancy during the winter months.
Deciduous trees such as Ash, Mulberry, and Elm (among others) are known for their ability to shed their leaves in the fall, providing beautiful multi colored leaves beforehand. The purpose of this is to help the tree survive through the winter months as the tree goes into dormancy. Once the tree has lost all of its leaves, this signals that it is the appropriate time to perform any necessary pruning as without the leaves on deciduous trees, it is much easier to see the branch structure and make informed cuts. Winter is a low stress time for these trees as they are known for being heat sensitive, giving another great reason for a winter pruning schedule.
It is important to get in and prune Deciduous trees during the cooler months as the branch patterns are more visible and the trees themselves develop healthier growth in the Spring when they put on new leaves. While it is recommended to prune any tree that seems to need it, it is important to be careful in your pruning choices and keep in mind that there are only a few valid reasons to prune; to prevent hazards, promote health of the tree, and increase or decrease the amount of leaves, flowers, and fruits.
Pruning should be done prior to the buds showing evidence of any swelling and should never exceed more than 25-30% of the canopy of the tree in any given year. When pruning, it is important to stay outside of the branch collar which will ensure that the wound from the cut heals naturally and correctly.
Finally, it is important to realize that pruning always results in wounds to the tree that can cause various responses such as increase in sprouting and susceptibility to disease and insect problems, so it is of the utmost importance that pruning is done professionally and appropriately.
ELS Maintenance has an entire division dedicated to Arbor care that specializes in keeping trees such as Deciduous trees maintained and healthy. Learn more about our Arbor Division and what they can do for your HOA community or commercial property here.
It’s officially time for OverSeeding here in Arizona! As temperatures begin to cool, we are looking to transition turf from Summer Bermuda to Winter Rye grass. Because OverSeeding is a process with multiple different stages and steps, many people are not sure where to start. Not to fear, we’ve got you covered by giving you all of the information you need to understand the first step in Overseeding this season; Scalping.
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What is Scalping?
Scalping, in its simplest terms, is a preparation technique that involves mowing turf lower so that the stems of the grass are exposed. This is done by lowering the mow height on the lawn mower while mowing, thus creating the brow-colored lawn that you see. This is specifically important in fall scalping as it allows the Bermuda to stay stronger while going dormant and allows the Rye seed to reach the ground.
How is Scalping done? In order to properly and effectively scalp, we start off by cutting the water a couple of days before scalp and then proceed to drop the mow height about 1-3 days prior to OverSeeding. After mowing, we collect and remove most of the clippings (leaving some as mulch for the OverSeeded seed). Once this is done, the turf should appear brown/tan as only the stems of the turf remain and a little bit of the soil is exposed. Light de-thatching, or the removal thatch accumulation, during this time ensures that the seed has appropriate contact with the soil.
After scalping, turf should be ready to move forward in the OverSeed process with the application of new seed. This new seed will require more frequent water times with shorter watering duration as we want to be sure to keep the seed moist without floating it.
Benefits of Scalping
Scalping, if done correctly, has a variety of benefits when it comes to a healthy transition for turf. Scalping works as a clearing process to ensure that the turf is free of debris, clippings, and thatch that could prevent the lawn from taking on new seed. This makes it easier for the seed to reach the soil while also working to prevent disease and turf health.
Another benefit of winter scalping is that the process exposes the soil to more sunlight, warming up the soil and promoting the growth of the seed.
Finally, scalping brings the entire lawn’s turf down to the stem, ensuring that all areas are the same height and receive the same amount of new seed. This promotes even growth throughout and leads to a better-looking lawn as the new seed grows in.
While it may not be appeasing to see the brown turf that appears following scalping, it is important to remember the benefits and reason behind performing this step when OverSeeding. The process takes anywhere from 4-6 weeks, but in time the brown turf that you are finding following the scalping process is replaced by healthy, strong winter grass that is appropriate for the season and promotes long term health.
Temperatures have been on the rise in recent weeks, hitting triple digit numbers here in the valley nearly every day. With this time of the year bringing in excessive heat and very little rain to cool our landscape down, certain plants are feeling the burn. One plant in particular that is suffering some consequences of these high temperatures, reflective heat, and little rain is the Lantana plant, commonly found here in the desert planted along sidewalks and roadways to beautify the area.
What Are Lantanas?
Lantanas are evergreen plants that are part of the broadleaf variety and are often classified as shrubs. These plants are a perennial and commonly found here in Arizona as they can survive on very little moisture and overly abundant sun. Lantanas should receive at least six hours of sun a day and most plants of the Lantana species thrive in hotter temperatures such as that of Arizona.
There are about 150 species of Lantana. Here in the desert, we most often find the following species:
L. Montevidensis: Also known as “Trailing Lantana” or “Weeping Lantana.” This plant is a low shrub that often takes the form of a vine offering flat groundcover. This species of lantana is strongly scented and can be differentiated from other lantana plants by its oval shaped leaves.
Lantana Camara: Also known as “Big Sage” or “Wild Sage,” this species is quite small and contains clusters of tubular shaped flowers that come in a variety of colors. The colors of flowers typically change after pollination and range from red, yellow, and orange, to white and pink.
Why Are Lantanas Burning?
Lantanas are often planted near sidewalks, granite, and roadways as a means of beautifying an area. Due to their location many of these plants are seeing significant sunburn from their surroundings as they experience the effects of heat reflection, especially when plants are seperated rather than planted in large groups. As temperatures rise to the triple digits and stay, the heat that hits the reflective surfaces of pavement, granite walls, and roadway is being directly reflected back on to the Lantanas planted near it. This causes the plant to overheat and suffocate as the plant burns due to the direct heat. Sunburn and lack of water effects typically look similar on the Lantana plant, however a quick probe into the soil can verify whether there is enough water or if the plant is burnt.
What Can we do to Keep Our Lantanas Healthy?
Many people believe that the key to preventing burn on Lantanas is to increase the amount of water it’s given. While consistent watering is important to support your lantana plant through the summer, excess water left on the plants can enhance the effects of heat reflection and make your lantanas more susceptible to burn. It is important to be sure not to overcompensate with too much water to ensure that the plant survives. Watering on a normal schedule will ensure that the plants do not become too wet and attract the reflective sunlight.
Another popular myth to be debunked is that cutting down the plants will help lantanas survive the burn of the Summer heat. This theory is another misunderstanding as cutting the already burnt parts of the plant down exposes more of the plant and causes deeper burn. Instead of chopping lantanas, we should prioritize giving them proper water and letting the burnt parts of the plant grow out, saving the base of the plant in the process.
Lantana plants suffering burns in the Arizona desert will be able to fully recoup and survive the heat so long as they are not interfered with. As the heat reduces in the coming weeks, we will see Lantanas return to their thriving state and continue to beautify our desert home. This is when plant health can be assessed as to whether or not the plant should be removed (if it’s not growing back properly) or if a proper prune will suffice.
Let’s talk more about how you can maintain the investment in your landscape and improve its value. Call your business development team at any time or click here to fill out an inquiry form and we will get in touch with you.
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