Yes! Mulch provides a number of benefits to both the plant and aesthetics of your landscape. Benefits to the plants range from keeping the roots protected from severe temperature extremes. Similar to a thermos- it helps to keep the roots cool in the summer and warm in the winter. In addition, mulch keeps moisture in the soil during dry periods and releases nutrients while it’s decomposing. To top it off, it just looks good! Mulch provides a very dramatic contrast between the green grass and plantings and helps define a pleasing line for your eye. A buffer zone to protect your tree and shrubs from being damaged by a lawn mower or weed trimmer. Weeds- I forgot to mention weeds. Mulch will help control those ugly weeds from germinating thus reducing weekend yard work while keeping a uniform look.
What type of mulch do I use?
Considered the following when choosing mulch:
- Texture – take advice from Goldilocks, the best texture is medium. It’s not too fine to cause compaction of the mulch causing retention of too much moisture, or to coarse as to not retain moisture since the pore are too large allowing the soil to dry.
- Composition – how much nutrient value does the mulch contain. Organic mulch provides nutrients as it decomposes and improves soil structure. Compared to mulching with stone or other synthetic mulches.
- Convenience – is it easier to buy bags and carry around or save some money and buy in bulk. Check out your local municipality and see if they recycle yard debris and you can stop by and pick-up free mulch.
- Color – a very personal preference on choosing the appearance of your mulch: Colors can range from black to brown to red and all shades in between. Pick a color you like and remember the sun will fade the mulch over time providing a bleached look.
How much do I apply and where?
Ideally, we recommended a depth of 2-3 inches of mulch. Apply this uniformly around your trees and shrubs and keep back from the trunks of the plants. Applying a layer of mulch next to the trunk will create an environment ideal for decay, insects, and disease. Make a slight depression around the trunk similar to a donut hole and this will help keep the mulch from piling up. I have seen mulch installation where they bury the trunk using the “Volcano” technique (see image below). Avoid this type of technique and spread your mulch illustrated in the graph below. Mulch should be applied on an annual basis and can be turned over after 6 months to help rejuvenate the color and reduce compaction.
Things to look out for when mulching
Excessive mulch may seem like a good idea. The thicker the mulch the less weeds I will have, it will help retain more moisture, and I will not need to apply more for a long time. While these sound good, the long term effects from excess moisture may cause the plants to die. Plants need the same amount of air in the soil as they do moisture.
Some hardwood mulches contain problems such as Artillery fungus. This causes little black dots on the side of your home, car, or patio furniture. Choose a clean source of your mulch or you may want to pick Pine Bark or Pine Straw as another organic mulch.
Question: What can I put on this moss to get rid of it?
Answer: A rake!
We have been getting a lot of calls about moss this year, with customers wanting to know why they have it and if there is a product that can be applied to get rid of it. Hopefully the information below will shed some light on this common nuisance.
Moss thrives in shady environments with poor air flow. An old wives’ tale says that the presence of moss means your ph is low (acidic soil) and your lawn needs lime. This is not necessarily true. Moss will grow just as well in perfectly balanced soil as it will in an acidic lawn. To help alleviate these issues, we generally recommend removing trees or limbs from the environment to allow for more light and oxygen. Even after this is done, moss can stick around until you remove it.
While there are some products that will kill moss, we don’t really recommend you use them. The reason is that although the moss will die, it will also return unless it is physically removed (raked out) and the conditions that cause it are corrected. Since you must remove the moss anyway, there is no reason to apply an additional chemical control first-just rake it out from the start.
Once the moss has been removed, something should be put in its place so it doesn’t return. We recommend aerating and seeding in the fall in most cases, but in an area with constant shade and airflow challenges other options such as a shade bed or mulch bed may be a better idea.
We want to be certain we are addressing the issues you are facing. We encourage our customers to ask questions about their lawns and what is happening in them. Give us a call at (804)285-6200 (Richmond), (757)258-1788 (Williamsburg), or (434)975-0100 (Charlottesville) and we’ll take care of you!
George F., from Ashland asked, “Why are there so many acorns?”
We have been bombarded by acorns over the last week. Not just a few, but hundreds and hundreds of nuts. The weather was perfect for oaks were in bloom in 2016. As such, we’ve had an unusually high set for acorns in 2016. The high winds this past weekend resulted in lots of acorns dropping. Some people describe them as sounding like gun shots on their roofs.
Acorns are a tree nut from oak trees. Each acorn contains a seed, or sometimes two, and is covered by a hard shell. Acorns are a great food source for deer so maybe, on the good side, they will leave some of the plant material alone in the landscape this fall. Squirrels also like acorns and can do damage to your lawn by digging holes to bury them.
Acorns aren’t generally bad for your lawn. If left in place for an extended period of time they can cause decline by blocking out sunlight. Most of the time, the acorns are damaged by mowing and never have the opportunity to do much damage. The same is true in the event that an acorn actually sprouts. Once the sapling oak is cut by a mower blade, it will not grow back.
If you have an unusually high accumulation of acorns on your property, you may need to remove some. A strong lawn vacuum will work just as good as raking. The latter will require a bit more labor and elbow grease. Ideally you don’t want to rake too hard as you can damage your existing turf.
David M. from Charlottesville asked, “My neighbor said my trees are infested with armor scales. Can you tell me what that is?”
Armor scales are one of the many pests that damage our landscapes. They don’t get much notice themselves because they don’t look like normal insects. Most are flat or may look like a tiny wart on the twig, leaf or fruit of the susceptible plant. However the damage that they cause in high populations is very noticeable. They cause this damage by sticking their tiny mouthparts into the plant and sucking out the juices. This feeding interrupts the natural flow of water and nutrients in the plant. The damage that you’ll see from an armor scale population can be wilted or yellow leaves that drop prematurely. You will also notice dieback in the limbs of the tree and a general decline over a couple of seasons, depending upon how severe of an infestation is present. Armor scale or hard scale, is a generalization as there are many different species of scale that fall into this group. The name “armor scale” is derived because of the insect’s hard waxy cover that protect it from predators, and most insecticides. Because of their waxy cover, timing is critical when trying to control an armor scale population. Here at Virginia Green Lawn Care we use Horticultural oil to control this particular pest. We time these applications to catch the scale when it is in a crawler stage and has not yet developed its armor. If you think that you have a problem with these insects, or have any other questions, please feel free to call us.
Lawn Care Payment Options
Jane M from Manakin-Sabot called Virginia Green recently and stated “I am new to Virginia Green; how do I pay my bill?” That is a terrific question and I thought I would take a moment to discuss our many varied payment options.
Prepay In Advanced for a 10% Discount
Firstly, at the beginning of each year we offer our customers the opportunity to prepay for their services for the upcoming year at a discounted rate. Our current offer is a discount of 10% for customers who pay for their lawn care program and/or tree and shrub program, along with a fall aeration and overseeding service. For customers who only wish to prepay for their lawn and or tree care, and not the aeration and overseeding, they will receive a 7% prepayment discount. Contact Virginia Green for our most up-to date promotions.
For customers who are prepaying, they may mail a check to our Richmond office at 7421 Ranco Rd., Henrico VA 23228, or call our offices with a credit card payment. Our telephone numbers are 804-285-6200 for the Richmond area, 757-258-1788 for the Williamsburg area, and 434-975-0100 for our customers in the Charlottesville area.
Pay As You Go
For our customers who do not wish to take advantage of our prepayment offer, and simply wish to pay as they go, the options are even greater. In addition to mailing a check, or calling our offices with a credit card payment as stated above, we also offer the option to keep a credit card on file, to be charged after each service is completed.
Customers utilizing this option will receive an invoice the day of service with a notation that their card will be charged for the current service. They will also receive an email receipt for that payment once their card has been charged. Many of our customers appreciate this convenience, freeing them up from having to call the office after each service.
We also offer the convenience of paying for completed services online. Once registration is completed, customers have the ability to add a credit card, and make payment for services 24 hours a day, at a time that is convenient for them.
Still Have Questions?
Again, it is all about ease of payment, and what works best for the customer. If you would like any more information regarding any of these payment options, please feel free to contact our office and speak with a representative today. We love hearing from our customers.
Want to speak with someone on the phone, please call one of our three local offices: (804)285-6200 in Richmond, (757)258-1788 in Williamsburg, and (434) 975-0100 in Charlottesville.
Freddie F. from Yorktown asked, “Is it too early to expect insects would be on my trees and shrubs?”
Why Winter Is a Great Time to Find Lawn Insects
Most people don’t worry about lawn insects in the winter. Now is a good time of year to scout your trees and shrubs for insects because there is no foliage present to hide insects living on the stems or branches. We have been seeing these insects on Hollies, Cherry Laurel, and have found them on Japanese Maples.
Indian Wax Scales
Found mostly on shrubs in the North as opposed to tree infestations in the South, Indian wax scale looks like someone stuck their white chewing gum in the crouch of the plant’s stems. If you remove the “gum” the underside of the scale is pink or red. The white substance is the wax the insect secretes to protect its body. The pink or red underside is the actual scale. Scale most often chooses hollies, euonymus, boxwood, pyracantha, and Viburnum as its hosts.
Indian Wax Scale on the stem of cherry laurel. photo credit: R. Robert
Indian wax scale feeds by extracting sap from the vascular system. A heavy infestation can cause premature leaf drop and branch dieback as well as producing large quantities of honeydew. These quantities of honeydew encourage black sooty mold which renders the plant and surrounding area unsightly.
During this time of year the best control is mechanical. Simply remove the scale from your plants with your hands. The females overwinter to produce eggs in May. This is when the insect is most vulnerable.
Indian Wax Scale on the stem of Callicarpa.
photo credit: R. Robert
Information and Inspection
Contact us today and we can inspect your plants now to start controlling this waxy pest. If you have questions, call one of our local offices for more information: (804)285-6200 in Richmond, (757)258-1788 in Williamsburg, and (434) 975-0100 in Charlottesville.
Learn More About Lawn Insects
Winter Treatments for Spring Lawn Insects
How To Identify Insects in Your Lawn
Three Devastating Impacts of Japanese Beetles On Virginia Lawns
Dale R. from Ashland asked, “I hear that it is better to cut the lawn low before winter hits, is this a good idea?”
Answer: A common misconception is that the lawn should be mowed shorter prior to the winter months. Tall fescue is a “bunch-type” grass that thickens through a process called tillering. This is when more shoots emerge from the crown of the plant. Taller mowing heights enables more tillering, resulting in thicker turf. Also, shoot growth is proportional to root growth. The taller the leaf material, the deeper the root. Therefore, Virginia Green Lawn Care recommends to always mow the lawn at 3.5-4” to allow for a thicker stand of grass and encourage deeper rooting going into the winter.
Perry K. from Yorktown asked, “When is the right time to turn off my irrigation system?”
Answer: Not yet! For those customers who have an irrigation system we suggest scheduling a visit to winterize your system toward the end of November. Thanksgiving is a good reminder. We tend to have some mild, dry weather into November, and newly seeded lawns will continue to need irrigation. .
Q: Cindy C. from Short Pump asked, “Why are my leaves turning black?”
A: Aphids, or plant lice, are small, soft-bodied insects. There are hundreds of different species of aphids, some of which attack only one host plant while others attack numerous hosts. Most aphids are about 1/10 inch long (2.54 mm), and though green and black are the most common colors, they may be gray, brown, pink, red, yellow, or lavender.
Aphids feed in clusters and generally prefer new, succulent shoots or young leaves. Some species, known as wooly aphids, are covered with white, waxy filaments, which they produce from special glands.
Aphids have unusual and complex life cycles that allow them to build up tremendous populations in relatively short periods of time. Most species overwinter as fertilized eggs glued to stems or other parts of plants.
Aphids feed by sucking up plant juices through a food channel in their mouth. At the same time, they inject saliva into the host. High infestations may result in leaf curl, wilting, stunting of shoot growth, and delay in production of flowers and fruit, as well as a general decline in plant vigor. Some aphids are also important vectors of plant diseases, transmitting pathogens in the feeding process. A dozen or more generations are typical in Virginia.
A sticky glaze of honeydew may collect on lower leaves, outdoor furniture, cars, and other objects below aphid feeding sites. Honeydew coated objects soon become covered by one or more brown fungi known as sooty molds. Crusts of sooty mold are unsightly on man-made objects, and they can interfere with photosynthesis in leaves. Needles and twigs are sometimes completely covered with sooty mold.
Q: “Why do my compacta hollies have dead spots in them?”
– Louis K., Charlottesville
A: Well Louis, it’s called Black Root Rot. Black Root Rot manifests as softball to basketball shaped dead or dying areas in the plant. Most compacta hollies like cool, moist, well-draining soils. In our area those conditions are hard to duplicate and it makes the plants more susceptible to this root borne pathogen.
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