How To Care For Your Holiday Poinsettias

holiday poinsettias

Over 34 million poinsettias are sold each year making it the highest-selling flowering plant in the United States accounting for upwards of $144 million in revenue. For the curious out there, Easter Lilies are in a distant second place with $22 million dollars in sales. Let’s face it—the holidays just aren’t the same without these beauties strategically placed in our homes and communities.

Many holiday enthusiasts are confused, however, about the best way to care for their holiday Poinsettias. The idea that poinsettias are hard to care for is a myth. You can add these festive beauties to your holiday décor, and if you keep them protected and well-watered, you’re likely to tap into their beauty for years to follow.

Here’s how to keep your poinsettias looking great through the holiday season.

Poinsettia Tips and Tricks To Make The Season Bright

Types of Poinsettias – Poinsettias are not popular because of flowers as much as their leaves. The poinsettias leaves are most commonly red, which is the most popular color. It can also be found in vaious shades of white and pink, including salmon, apricot, yellow, cream and pure white. New poinsettia color varieties are introduced yearly, and some are even enhanced by dyes.

Choosing the Right Poinsettia – Pay attention to where the poinsettias are located in the store or nursery you are shopping at. If they are near the door and your area has been cold lately, they might have already been damaged by the cold temps.

Next, check out the soil. It should be neither soaked nor dry. Also, check out the state of the leaves, choosing one with leaves that are not showing signs of wilting. Finally, be sure to keep your poinsettia protected from the elements during its transport home.

Indoors Vs. Outdoor Poinsettias – Whether your holiday plants can be kept outside depends on where you live and how your winter is going. Poinsettias can handle temps in the range of 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. If they are exposed to extreme drops in temperature, they will first wilt and in most cases die. For best results, keep your poinsettia in a warm room and mist it daily.

Watering Your Poinsettias – It’s hands-down, the most commonly asked poinsettia question: How often do you water a poinsettia? And the answer is not complicated—if the soil is dry to touch or some of the leaves are beginning to droop, your holiday plant needs water. An important and often overlooked poinsettia care tip is that you should never let your poinsettia sit in standing water. Be sure to drain the bottom after watering.

Lighting – Your poinsettia will need limited daylight with no more than ten hours daily. Keep them in a dark space after 5 p.m. until early hours of the morning for 8-10 weeks starting in early October.

Longevity of Poinsettias – A common question poinsettia fans ask is if their poinsettia will re-bloom next year. The answer is yes. The chances are good that your holiday plants will re-bloom next year, but with a caveat, you have to do the work to keep them healthy. Keep these tips in mind and you may have poinsettias for many years to come. When cared for properly, poinsettias usually will outlast your desire to keep them!

The History Behind Poinsettias

The poinsettia plant is native to Central America where it was used by the Aztecs for decorative and medicinal purposes. Contrary to popular belief, it is not poisonous. The Aztecs also considered the red color a symbol of purity and incorporated Poinsettias into religious ceremonies. In Mexico and Guatemala, the poinsettia is referred to as the “Flower of the Holy Night.” Dr. Joel Roberts Poinsett, an American botanist, introduced the plant in 1828.

As the holidays near, the finishing touches on your home décor might require a few poinsettias. They even make a wonderful host or hostess gift if you are visiting friends and family this holiday!

Our Spring Green team is here to help you throughout the holidays and all year-round, whatever your lawn, tree and/or pest care needs may be.

Winter Lawn Care Tips for Warm Climates

warm season grass

Winter living in a southern climate can be the most glorious time of year. Humidity levels drop, the sun continues to shine, all while temperatures are seemingly perfect. As an added layer, we watch as the rest of the country struggles with snow, ice, and freezing temps – making us appreciate our lot in life that much more. There are nuances, however, to caring for our lawn during these cooler winter months that can help us keep our outdoor living spaces thriving all year round. Let’s unpack the why’s, how’s, and do’s, versus the don’ts of caring for your winter lawn in a southern climate.

Attention Southern Climate Dwellers: Your Tips for a Thriving Lawn This Winter

1. The differences in summer lawn care and winter lawn care

Even though the winter is mild and the threat of a frost may be minimal in southern areas, winter lawn care does come with some special instructions. As the temps drop (ever so slightly) and the rainy season closes, it’s important to continue to mow your lawn to encourage growth and prevent disease. When it appears to stop growing, you can give your mower a break. In the late fall, it may be a good idea to aerate your lawn to help increase root growth and promote breathing as well as minimize thatch build up to avoid susceptibility to diseases and insects.

2. Understanding winter lawn fertilization

When it comes to fertilizing your winter lawn, commonly asked questions are sure to pop up. Is it okay to fertilize my lawn in winter? What type of fertilizer should I put on my lawn when it’s cold? When and how much should I fertilize my winter lawn? Here are some rules of thumb: If you have warm season grasses (such as Bermuda, St. Augustine, Zoysia, or Centipede), fertilizers that contain winterizers should not be used because they’re designed for lawns that go dormant in the winter, not lawns in warmer climates where winterizing is less of an issue. Warm season grasses respond best to fertilization when the temps are warm and the grass is growing.

3. No break from weeding during winter

While warm climate dwellers do get a break from snowy roads and frozen sidewalks, they don’t get a break from weeding the lawn. Keep up with your weeding during the winter months by applying a broadleaf weed control treatment. Raking and clearing away thatch and debris will also contribute to your lawn’s overall health during winter and all year round.

4. Give special attention to warm season grasses

Warm season grass can be defined as types of grasses that have maximum growth at higher temperatures (in the range of 80-95 degrees Fahrenheit). Warm season grass species usually include Bahia Grass, Bermuda Grass, Carpet Grass, St. Augustine, and Zoysia. These grasses will go dormant if temps fall below freezing and return when warm weather returns. If your climate rarely or never falls below freezing, your warm weather grass will need moderate mowing (not too much, not too little) and, depending on the rainfall in your area, watering. Be careful not to overwater and night watering may also be avoided during winter months.

5. School yourself on the do’s and don’ts for winter lawn care

It’s winter, and if you live in the south, you’re relishing in the break from the heat! But don’t forget about the most important do’s and don’ts for winter lawn care:

  • DO – Clean debris, leaves, and toys or trash to allow your winter lawn to breathe, as well as avoid conditions that promote disease and invite unwanted pests like insects and rodents.
  • DO – Pay attention to your lawn mowing practices. Be sure to lower the height of your mower and avoid over-mowing to avoid damage to your winter lawn.
  • DON’T – Walk all over-sensitive lawns. While dormant grass can certainly tolerate a moderate amount of traffic, heavy traffic will cause problems.
  • DON’T – Assume the weather will always be perfect. Extreme weather patterns occur more and more frequently, making it important to monitor weather conditions even in warm climates. Conditions like heavy rains or uncharacteristic cold temps can harm your winter lawn without preparation.

If you’re one of the lucky ones that resides in a warm climate during the winter, your trade-off for not having to shovel snow is that your winter lawn care may require a bit more from you all year round. The good news is it will actually be warm enough for you to get outside and enjoy the green garden. Follow these best practices to keep your winter lawn healthy and set your spring, summer and fall lawn up for beauty and health as well.

If you are in need of a professional to help you with your lawn care needs, don’t hesitate to contact Spring-Green, the neighborhood lawn care team that has been supporting communities likes yours since 1977. We can provide the professional and courtesy service you need to keep your residential or commercial property looking great 365 days out of the year and through any type of weather.

Answers to Top Frequently Asked Questions about Warm Season Grass Mowing

warm season grass lousiana

If you’re like most homeowners, you have a few pressing questions about warm season grasses that need to be answered ASAP! Before we dive into the most commonly asked questions about your dormant grass and its best care recommendations, let’s get on the same page.

First-things-first, let’s make sure we understand what warm season grasses are. Warm season grasses, as the name implies, thrive in temperatures that are consistently over 75 degrees.

These warm-weather loving grasses are best used in warm regions such as the south, southeast, and southwest of the United States, where summers last longer, and average temperatures are higher. Now that we’ve got our definitions cleared up, let’s explore the most commonly asked questions about warm season grass and its care during winter and beyond.

Answers To Your FAQs About Your Warm Season Grass

1. What happens when my warm season grass goes dormant? When the temperatures begin to dip, warm season grasses become dormant. They change from green to brown, but this does not mean they have died. They are simply in their dormant state to ride out the cold seasons. Once temperatures rise above 75 in the spring, they will turn green again. If you live in an area that experiences extreme temperatures in the summer, you may notice a dormancy period during the hottest and driest parts of your summer as well.

2. When should I stop mowing my lawn before winter? The answer, well it depends. First, you have to define what frost zone you live in. (Hint – the Farmer’s Almanac can help with that.) Once determined, mow your warm season grass two or three times before the first frost arrives. Be sure to slowly reduce the blade’s height each time you mow before it gets too cold.

3. What are the common types of warm season grass? Another common warm season grass question goes something like this: Is Bermuda a warm season grass? How do I know if my grass is the kind that goes dormant during winter? Is Zoysia grass a warm season grass? To answer these pressing questions, the most common types of warm season grass include Bermudagrass, Bahia Grass, Centipede Grass, St. Augustine Grass and Zoysia Grass.

4. Should I mow dormant grass? In most cases, it is not necessary to mow dormant warm-season grasses. The exception to this recommendation is when the grass was left too long the previous fall. In this case, mowing the grass shorter in the spring is a recommended practice.

Proper mowing is the key to successful warm season grass and the overall health of your lawn. The guideline for mowing your winter season grass vary based on the type of grass you have, but three best practices hold true for all.

Tips for winter season grass mowing:

• Bag up the trash! Dispose of clippings to reduce thatch buildup in warm season lawns.
• Use a sharp blade! By using a sharp mower blade, your mowing will put less stress on the grass as well as help to prevent fungus.
• Never go too short! Don’t remove more than one-third of your warm season grass’s height in one mowing.

Height guidelines for your warm season grass:

• Bermudagrass – 3/4″ – 1 1/2″ inches
• St. Augustine Grass – 1 1/2″ – 3″ inches
• Centipede Grass – 1″ – 2″ inches
• Zoysia Grass – 3/4″ – 2 1/2″

5. How best should I wake up dormant grass? There is a chance that your warm season grass is not simply dormant. It could be dead. It’s hard to tell what the answer is until you begin to reverse the condition which is done by watering and as temperatures begin to warm up. By watering your warm season grass regularly, you should revive it from its dormant state in a matter of a few days. An important note – while you are in the process of watering your lawn to “wake it up,” try to limit foot traffic that can damage the root system. Also, refrain from mowing during this time period.

6. When will my grass go dormant? Warm season grass thrives in temps above 75 degrees Fahrenheit. When soil temperatures dip below 55 degrees, your grass will enter its dormant state. When this happens will vary based on where you live, and the weather patterns your region faces during any particular fall or winter season.

Now that we’ve gotten this pressing questions out of the way, it’s time to get out there and care for our lawns…well, if it’s time, that is! At Spring-Green, we’ve been helping homeowners and businesses maintain beautiful lawns and landscapes all year long for 40 years.

As your neighborhood lawn care professional, we will treat your lawn like it’s our own. When it’s time to wake up that dormant warm weather grass, you can count on our professional team of lawn care technicians for even the toughest challenge.

Contact your nearest neighborhood Spring-Green lawn care professional today.

The Secrets To Winter Lawn Care Revealed

winter lawn care

Professional landscaping experts get the frequently asked winter lawn care questions over and over again. “How often should I water my lawn in winter?” Or other varieties like:

  • How can I keep my lawn healthy during the cold months, so it looks great in spring and summer?
  • What are the best tools to prep my lawn before the first snowfall comes?
  • I have this type of grass, how do I care for it during winter?

So, since those are just a few of the commonly asked questions about winter lawn care, we decided we should put together an easy to follow guide to help our customers who are faced with these conundrums every year when the seasons change. We hope these tips address your questions and sets your lawn up for success all year long!

The Secret To Great Winter Lawn Care

1. Like most things in life, preparation is key. It comes like clockwork every year. Sometime after Halloween, we start to feel a chill in the air. By Christmas, we are in the full throes of the winter season – like it or not. By planning out your winter lawn care before winter is in full force, you’re much more likely to keep your lawn healthy throughout the year.

Here’s what should be on your calendar for your lawn’s best care:

  • Fertilize – Apply fertilizer to your grass and landscaping plants in late fall before the harshness of winter kicks off. Your lawn care professional can help you determine the right timing and which products are best for your home.
  • Clean – Your winter lawn care regiment should include clearing the way for the sun. Clean the leaves and debris throughout the cold season to allow for sunlight and avoid mold which can lead to disease.
  • Mow – Just before the first freeze occurs, mow your lawn shorter than you normally would by lowering the height of your mower. Take care not to cut it too short as that will also cause damage.

2. Know what to do when bad weather is on its way. Winter weather can pop up without warning, but usually, we do have some notice when a snowstorm is headed our direction. If you know a winter storm or deep freeze is approaching, be sure to take a few precautionary steps.

  • Watch for snow mold. To prevent snow mold, make sure to de-thatch or aerate your lawn regularly, which will increase air circulation and prevent snow mold.
  • Avoid voles. Voles occur when small rodents leave tunnels in the snow and lawn debris and eat your plant roots. Vole trails can be prevented by removing lawn debris continuously throughout the winter months.

3. Understand your lawn’s watering needs. The answer to how often to water your winter lawn will likely come down to the region of the country you live in and what type of grass you have growing in your lawn. For example, a homeowner with Bermuda grass can hold off for several months without watering.

It may not look pretty, but it will survive. On the other hand, Tall Fescue, a cool-season grass, can survive for about 30 days with only one inch of water. In general terms, a healthy lawn will need about one inch of water per week, with less water needed during the winter than the summer.

No matter the season, Spring-Green lawn care can help you care for your lawn and prepare for anything Mother Nature serves up! Our team of lawn care professionals offers expertise the needs of your area and with limitless types of landscapes. Since 1977, we’ve been providing a full range of professional lawn care services to fit any budget.

For more information on caring for your winter lawn or any of your landscaping needs, contact your neighborhood lawn care professional today at Spring-Green.

How To Pick The Perfect Christmas Tree For The Holiday Season

Picking The Perfect Christmas Tree

It’s December which means it’s time to decorate (among other things). While shopping, visits to Santa and cookie baking top our to-do lists, so does picking the perfect Christmas tree. It may seem fun and festive to head out to the local nursery or corner stall to buy a tree, but picking the right Christmas tree for your unique needs can make all the difference in your holiday decorating efforts.

Don’t sweat it though, your neighborhood lawn care professionals at Spring-Green is here to guide you through the process of choosing the perfect tree – for you!

The Essential Christmas Tree Buying Guide

What the perfect tree looks like – Selecting the tree to make your holiday decor shine is subjective, but be sure your favorite tree is fresh by looking for shiny and green needles – not brown or dry-looking. If you pull on a branch, the fresh tree’s needles won’t fall off. Evergreen trees like Fraser and Noble Fir are the most popular Christmas trees and for good reason.

They have shorter needles which makes them easy to decorate. Another key attribute of the perfect Christmas tree is some space between the branches to give room for your ornaments, garland and lights to shine through. You’ll also want the tree to have stronger branches that can hold your ornaments. Insider’s tip: bring an ornament with you to test it in key places before you buy!

Artificial versus real Christmas trees – Just like picking the perfect Christmas real tree can be subjective, so is the decision to choose a real Christmas tree or an artificial one. While there is a convenience factor to choosing an artificial tree, some holiday lovers can’t resist the smell of the real Christmas tree in their home.

While artificial trees may be easier and cheaper, the real alternative brings some noteworthy benefits. According to the USDA, most of the real Christmas trees are grown by U.S. farmers. On average, 30 million real trees are sold each year, helping to employ over 100,000 American workers!

Choosing the right size – So, once you’ve decided on the type of tree, it’s time to talk about size and location.

  • Location, location, location – Where in your house are you planning to display your beautiful Christmas tree? Both real and artificial trees can be fire hazards, so be sure to choose a place away from your home’s heat sources like fireplaces, heaters and even sunny windows. Also, keep your tree protected by keeping it out of high traffic areas. Finally, consider where lights will be plugged in and how cords might get in the way before choosing the perfect spot.
  • Size matters – How much space (height and width) will have to comfortable place your tree within? Make a note and, if you’re going with a real tree, it is a good idea to bring a tape measure with you to take measurements of the tree you choose. Be sure to take note of the size of your tree’s trunk so you can find the appropriate stand.

Christmas tree maintenance – Water is the key to keeping your Christmas tree looking great through the entirety of the holiday season. Keep your fresh tree in a stand that holds a lot of water and check the levels every day. In the beginning, your tree may need to be watered more than once a day. Plain water will suffice, but some swear by the additives that can help your tree flourish even longer.

After the festivities – When the holidays end and you’re ready to get rid of your tree, it’s best to look into recycling. Most cities partner with their waste management companies to offer a recycling option, and if not, you could use it for your own garden by converting it to mulch. Please note that you should never burn your Christmas tree as it can create a serious fire hazard.

Picking the best Christmas tree is not rocket science and should not be a stressful part of your holiday season, but it is important. The Christmas tree buying tips from Spring Green, however, take the guesswork out of your tree buying endeavors! If only finding the perfect gifts for everyone on your list was this easy.

We may not be able to help you with the gift shopping, gift wrapping or cookie baking, but if you are in the need of quality, reliable lawn care, our team of dedicated experts are here to help this holiday season and all year long!

Winter Turf Damage: Cold Temperatures Affected Southern Lawns

Winter Grass Damage

Blog Post Provided From Roland Freund, Spring-Green Franchise Owner of Spring, Texas

This past winter will be remembered as an unusually cold one in the South region, and landscapes are now telling the story.
Homeowners are busy trying to replace dead plants and repair lawn areas. Since Eastern Redbuds are blooming, there is a very good chance the freezing cold weather is behind us.

Lawn Care companies and the Extension Offices have been inundated with phone calls regarding dead areas in lawns. Everyone is quick to blame someone, but the truth of the matter is that no one had control over the weather and the amount of winter kill to lawns.
Based on my observations in different communities, most of the damage occurred to turf in open areas with no protection from frosts or low temperatures.

Lawn areas beneath a tree canopy, between buildings or next to water bodies fared much better because they got some protection from the cold. One lawn may be damaged and the one next door may be fine.

Lawns Affected By Cold Weather

There are lots of variables that affect cold hardiness such as the type of lawn and variety, soils, mowing height, etc. Also, new lawns installed after late August or later did not fare well, because the lawns did not have sufficient time to establish.

According to University of Florida turfgrass specialist Bryan Unruh, winter injury is a very complex and poorly understood phenomenon in turf. It is not only related to low temperature but also to fertilization rate (individual applications and seasonal quantities), state of hydration at the time of low temperatures and perhaps most important is the number of times that it greens and re-greens throughout the winter.

Warm temperatures are often followed by cold, creating a roller coaster of temperature fluctuations. As a result, the stored carbohydrates in lawns dwindle and are depleted when spring rolls around. Based on this information, it would be difficult to blame any one thing for the damage we experienced this year.

Repairing Your Lawn From the Winter

If you have dead areas in the lawn, it’s time to move on and repair them. If the dead areas are small, gently rake out the damaged turf so the surrounding lawn can fill in the gaps. If the areas are large, use a garden rake to remove the dead material; then loosen and level the existing soil.

Depending on the type of grass, replace with sod, plugs, or seed. St. Augustine, Zoysia, and Improved Bermuda lawns can be planted as sod and/or plugs. Common Bermuda can also be grown from seed. Plugs, sod, and seed are readily available at sod nurseries or garden centers.
Don’t mix different grasses in the same lawn, because the growing requirements are not the same. Also, try to match the variety with what you currently have unless you are dissatisfied with the existing lawn. For example, Floratam, Delmar, Palmetto, Bitterblue, Captiva, Seville,and Classic are all St. Augustine grass varieties.

If you are unable to match the variety, make your own plugs by cutting out sections with a shovel or a special steel plugger. Plugs are typically spaced 6 to 12 inches apart but can be spaced closer so the bare areas will fill in quicker to reduce weed problems. Store-bought plugs will establish sooner because they have a more developed root system.

Seed or Sod Your Lawn

Seeds should be applied evenly, lightly raked into the soil and/or covered with a thin layer of topsoil, and then rolled to ensure seed to soil contact. Cover the seeded area with a thin layer of mulch to prevent seedlings from drying out. Watering is the next critical stage to the success of the new sod, plugs or seed. Keep the area moist by applying small quantities of water several times each day for about two weeks. Do not turn the sprinkler on and let it run constantly as this keeps the area too wet, promotes disease problems, and wastes water.

After the seedlings emerge or the sod starts to grow and take root, reduce the irrigation frequency but increase the amount. Once established, and the grass is actively growing, apply 1 inch water/week when you run the irrigation system to encourage a deep root system.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact your local Spring-Green.

How Cooler Temperatures Are Affecting Lawn and Landscape

Is It Spring Yet?

As is the case with most years, sometimes it will warm up early, fooling a lot of plants, including turfgrasses, to start the annual spring green-up. Only to be broadsided with an arctic blast and cooler temperatures that pushes plants back into winter dormancy.

Cool-season turfgrasses like bluegrass, ryegrass and the fescues are somewhat accustomed to these weather fluctuations, but the warm-season grasses, such as Centipede, St. Augustine and Bermuda grasses can be greatly affected by a cold snap after they have been coaxed into an early spring green-up by an early warm up. Such is the case with many lawns in the warmer parts of the United States.

Roland Freund, Franchise Owner in the Houston, Texas area, posted some information on his Facebook page about lawns in his area that are turning a purplish color due to some cooler temperatures that have pushed southward. Turf turning a purple color is often a sign of stress and when warm season grasses that have started to come out of winter dormancy get hit with freezing temperatures, the result can cause turf to turn an off-color. Luckily, it is a temporary condition and the turf generally recovers on its own.

Some warm-season grasses that have started to green-up can display an usual camouflage-like pattern when subjected to cooler to freezing temperatures, such as what you see in the picture below. This can happen to Bermuda and Zoysia grasses. Just as is the case with St. Augustine, this is a temporary problem and the grasses usually grow starting growing and the damage disappears as new grass blades cover up the blades that have turned brown.

grass in cooler temperatures
The one unknown for warm-season turfgrass lawns is how the extremely cold temperatures that affected much of the South in early to mid-January. Temperatures in the single digits is a common occurrence in the areas where cool-season turfgrasses grow, but this year many parts of the south experienced near record setting cold weather for an extended period. It is still a little early to tell if those temperatures had a lasting effect on lawns and landscapes in the South. I will tell you that I was conducting a training session in Lake Charles, Louisiana towards the end of January, and I saw many palms trees whose fronds were badly damaged by the cold weather. It is going to take some time for those trees and the lawns to recover from the cooler temperatures.

Caring for warm-season turfgrass lawns at this time of year focuses on controlling existing winter weeds and preventing the growth of annual grasses like crabgrass and goosegrass. Weeds are much more durable than turfgrasses and will quickly come back from the onslaught of freezing temperatures. It is almost time to start fertilizing these grasses, but patience is necessary. Applying fertilizer too early can have detrimental to these grasses.

As the South gets ready for the beginning of spring, what about the lawns and landscapes in the cool-season areas? Spring applications have started for lawns in the Transition Zone where Tall Fescue is the predominate turfgrass. Except for parts of Northern California, Oregon and Washington, it is still too early to prepare for the first application of spring.

It is a best practice to wait until the ground is no longer frozen to apply the first application. In many northern states, this is mandated by law to prevent run-off from fertilizer or weed control products off of the frozen ground. It is still early and spring will be here before we know it, unless, of course, the area is hit with a late winter storm – not an uncommon occurrence in March or even early April. The best thing to do is make sure the lawn mower is tuned up and plan ahead for the season. Spring is just around the corner, so remember you can count on your local Spring-Green to make sure your lawn looks green, and thick for the upcoming season!

How to Protect Your Lawn and Landscape from Winter Salt

salt alternatives melt winter ice

If you are like most people, you go to the hardware store and pick up two or three bags of rock salt to use on your driveway and sidewalks. Some products claim not to damage grass or plants (like calcium chloride or magnesium chloride), but if you use too much, it can still cause damage. There are also products that are safer for pets, but those products can cost 7 to 10 times more than common rock salt. So what’s the best way to protect your lawn and landscape plants from winter salt?

Safe Salt Alternatives to Melt Winter Ice

A cheap alternative to avoid winter salt damage on lawn and landscape is to use coarse sand. It does not melt the ice, but it can provide better traction. One thing to remember is that a lot of sand has water in it, so keep the bags some place warm. Once those sand bags freeze up, they are not much help until they thaw out again.

Some people think that using fertilizer is a good alternative, but it does not take too much of it to damage your lawn as bad if not worse that when using sand. Kitty litter and oil dry are two other products than can also be used in the winter, but once they melt into the ice, they are not much help.

You may be able to control how much salt or salt-alternative products you use on your own driveway and sidewalk, but there is not much you can do when the city plow trucks come down your street and cover your lawn and landscape with salt. I guess we can’t be too upset that they are trying to make our lives a little easier, but sometimes they tend to spread too much of a good thing.

Protect Plants From Salt Damage

If you have plants growing near the street, try putting up a barrier of burlap cloth to keep the salt from getting in the planting beds. Some people every try covering their plants with sheets of plastic, which is not a good idea. Basically, you are creating mini green houses and plants may prematurely produce leaves during the day, which will freeze when temperatures drop below freezing.

Just about every part of the U.S. must deal with snow and ice at some time during most winters. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact your local Spring-Green. 

How Winter Mulch Can Protect Your Garden This Season!

winter mulch

Adding mulch around garden and landscape plants is a great idea as it will help protect the roots of overwintering perennials from the ravages of winter temperatures.  When temperatures fluctuate during the winter, mulch helps to keep soil temperature around more steady than uncovered soil. Even though it is winter, plants still need moisture, especially evergreen plants like yews, junipers, arborvitae and many broad-leafed evergreen plants still require water.

Common Mulch to Use in the Winter

When bare soil freezes, the moisture in the frozen soil is less available to the plant, which can lead to winter desiccation.  Mulch comes in many forms, from commercially packaged bags to bales of straw or pine needles to homemade compost.

Here are a few of the most common types of mulch:

Shredded Bark

This is a very common type of mulch that is used across the U.S.  Depending on your point of view, shredded bark is good as it breaks down quickly, helping to feed the soil microorganisms.  Since it breaks down quickly, it should be replenished on an annual basis.  Don’t pile this mulch high upon the base of trees to create what are called “mulch volcanoes”. The mulch should not exceed about 3 inches in depth.  It is also good to purchase composted shredded bark as it will provide more nutrients to your plants.

Straw and Pine Straw

Most homeowners don’t use regular straw as mulch around their home as a decorative mulch.  It usually has a more utilitarian use in vegetable gardens.  When purchasing bales of straw, inquire about weed seeds.  Oat straw has a good number of other weed seeds embedded in the bales, which can lead to future problems.

Pine Straw is probably the most popular mulch used in the many southern states.  It is lighter than shredded mulch and easier to spread. It does tend to interlock as it decomposes, so it is a good choice for sloped areas. As with any other mulch, it does have to be replenished on a regular basis.


Compost is darker in color, similar in color to many humus type soils, so it can help to enhance the color of many plants in the landscape. It is also the mulch that breaks down faster compared to others.  Since it is already in the composted stage of decaying, it is the best mulch for the health of your plants as it adds to the natural soil food web that exists in the soil. Since it breaks down quickly, it must be refreshed every year.

If you have the space, you can make your own compost, but most homeowners purchase truckloads of it, depending on the size of their landscape beds. It can be a back-breaking task to spread all that compost.

Pine or Cedar Bark Chips

Pine or cedar bark chips provide the least amount of organic content to the soil, mainly since they take a long time to break down.  They are also not a good choice for sloped areas as they are light weight and tend to float away during heavy rain storms. It has also been said that the natural waxes that cover the bark chips will wash over and can cover the soil, repealing water in the long term.

Even though it is the end of the growing season, adding mulch to landscape beds is still possible until the ground begins to freeze and the snow covers the ground. If you have any questions about caring for your lawn and landscape in the winter, call on your neighborhood lawn care professional at Spring-Green.

The Lawn Care Season Has Kicked-Off in the South

lawn care in the south now beginning

During the spring, I travel across the US to conduct training seminars for our great Field Staff and Customer Service Professionals in many of the states where Spring-Green does business. I started off in Columbia, SC, working with teams from North and South Carolina along with a team from Alabama.

All of these locations started their lawn care year or are getting ready to start within the next week. It may be early February, but if the weather is good, as it has been, these operations are getting a jump start on late winter weed control. This helps lessen weed populations before warm season grasses begin breaking dormancy and start growing again.

I had a chance to take a walk outside around the hotel where I am staying today and observed many weeds growing in the turfgrass around the building. These are not the type of weeds that start growing in the fall, also known as winter annuals, but are recently germinated weeds. Much of the south has been enjoying a mild, although recently stormy, winter. This allowed weeds to grow almost unchecked this winter, so steps need to be taken to control them.

weeds showing up in the south

The control methods include applications of both pre-emergent and post-emergent weed control products.

The difference between the two is fairly simple. A pre-emergent is applied to prevent weeds from germinating and a post-emergent is applied after the weed has germinated and is actively growing.

Not all weeds are prevented with an application of a pre-emergent. The primary weeds controlled by a pre-emergent are annual grassy weeds like Crabgrass, Foxtail and Goosegrass. Fortunately, these materials will also prevent many annual broadleaf weeds such as Spotted Spurge, Knotweed and Lespedeza from germinating as well.

A post-emergent weed control material is applied mainly on actively growing broadleaf weeds. There are post-emergent products that can also be used on many grassy weeds, but that is a blog post topic for another day. The important aspect of controlling weeds with a post-emergent product is that the weed has to be actively growing to get the best control. If it is too: cold, hot, dry or even wet, these conditions can affect the ability of the product to do its job. 

The owners that attended the training course today are well aware that the weather can change, but it is important that Spring-Green locations take advantage of each day that allows them the opportunity to work on their lawns.

If you have questions on weed control this winter, contact your neighborhood lawn care professional at Spring-Green.