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Rodolph Brothers Blog

THE BENEFITS OF USING A LANDSCAPE DESIGN...Thursday, September 5, 2013

“Failing to plan is planning to fail”

I was recently called by a homeowner named Marilyn who was very distressed saying, “My landscape was beautiful when they installed it five years ago, but now it looks horrible.” I said, “How is it that after five years you are just now unhappy with your landscape?” Marilyn replied, “The beautiful little evergreen bushes that they planted in front of my picture window are now covering it entirely. The quaint little tree that they placed by the corner of the patio is now covering so much of my patio that I cannot even sit out there anymore, much less see the water feature that they installed on the other side of my patio.” I inspected the property the following week and found it to be just as Marilyn described and worse. I asked her who provided her with a landscape design, and she admitted that she did not get a design but instead relied on the knowledge of the contractor to provide her with the landscape that she envisioned. Marilyn said, “I knew exactly what I wanted and I told the contractor what I wanted, so I assumed that they would make it work.” The only solution to this landscape problem was to remove large portions of it and start over, costing thousands of dollars, not to mention the loss of perfectly healthy, mature trees and shrubs that were going to be thrown away because they were planted in the wrong places.

A landscape designer will:

• Measure your property and produce a scaled drawing
• Make a drainage plan and identify any retaining walls that must be built
• Assess the soil and identify necessary amendments
• Give you all of the options of possible plant material and show you where they should be placed based on the growth habits of the particular plant or tree
• Identify all mulch and sod areas and give you the quantities needed to cover adequately
• Specify an adequate irrigation system
• Produce conceptual pictures of what your landscape will look like after it is installed
• Help you obtain estimates and inspect the project during the different phases of construction
A good landscape designer would have saved Marilyn a great deal of headaches and even more money. Typically a landscape designer charges $60- $90 per hour which will equate to $1,500 to $3,000 to complete a residential landscape design. However, the returns on this investment in planning will be:
• Confidence in your plan
• Obtaining fair estimates from different contractors
• Your vision will truly become a reality
• Most of all, a landscape designer will make sure that you are doing it right the first time

Finishing Well...Thursday, August 22, 2013

By: Aaron Rodolph

I was at a new client’s house yesterday inspecting the finishing touches on a pond that we had just installed in his back yard. It was a beautiful pond designed to look very natural with aspen and native plantings surrounding a brook that cascaded down through wild flowers finally spilling out into a wonderful pond. I told him that after we flushed out the pond one last time, we would start up the water feature so that he could enjoy it for a month or so before it needed to be winterized for the season. He responded with surprise; saying, “no way, it is almost September and I always turn off my irrigation system about now and just wait for the leaves to fall.” I responded “The leaves haven’t even turned yellow yet! It is unthinkable to end the growing season before nature decides.” After some convincing, he allowed us to finish preparing his brand new pond, fertilize all of the plants and trees in his landscape, and continue mowing for the next six weeks. I am sure that he will be happy that he made this decision to finish the season well.

I have found that the folks here in Casper tend to stop taking care of their landscapes around the same time that school starts each year when everyone assumes that it is fall season. This poor assumption can have devastating consequences for the plants in your landscape that are trying to finish their important growth cycle.

  • Fall is one of the most important times of the year to fertilize. The root system is storing energy for next year during the fall, so fertilizer is put to the best use in a plant during the fall season. You should use only the best fertilizer because cheap fertilizer can damage your soil profile.

  • Your yard needs 2 pounds of slow release nitrogen for every 1000 square feet of lawn which should be applied during the fall. You should have a lawn care expert fertilizing your turf grass because they have access to the finest fertilizers and the latest technological advances in the industry.

  • Trees need a different formulation of fertilizer than your lawn. You should have a certified arborist fertilizing your trees every fall. Deep root fertilization technology is very beneficial in Casper’s compact clay soil. This technology breaks up the clay allowing the roots to expand and promotes a habitat for the healthy mychorrizal organisms that sustain the life of your trees.

  • Don’t turn off and winterize your irrigation system until the night temperatures are consistently dropping to 40 degrees: this historically occurs sometime in October here in Casper. Your landscape needs 1 gallon of water on each square foot every single week during the growing season.

Your landscape is depending on you to finish well for the season.

Ash Borers...Friday, August 16, 2013

In the Casper area, the Ash Borers attack green or white Ash trees, European Mountain Ash, and Lilacs. The larvae bore into the wood of the host plant, creating holes in the trunk and main crotch area leading to swelling and cracking of the bark. Die-back of specific branches are then observed mid-summer or the following spring after the attack. A borer hole made by the larvae creates an entry for secondary infections by insects and disease organisms. Death to the host plant can occur if attacks go unchecked for continuous years.

Ash trees that are grown in a street or landscaped environment are highly susceptible to borer attack. Trees in unthrifty conditions from low fertility, drought, or defoliated by leaf eating caterpillars are especially vulnerable.

LIFE CYCLE
The insect over winters as a nearly mature larvae in the trunk of the host plant. In the spring the adults (wasp like moths) emerge, mate, and begin laying eggs on the host trees. The eggs hatch in approximately ten days and the larvae tunnel into the host plant. There is only one generation per year.

PREVENTION
A spray application of Acme Borer spray or Astro can be applied to the trunk of the tree. Three times at two-week intervals, beginning approximately June 15th. The tree can also be injected with Bidrin or Dendrex by a certified arborist once a year, around mid June through the end of June, keeping the tree free if destructive insects and utilizing a good fertility program will keep the tree healthy.

CURATIVE
If the tree has been attacked, it should be injected with Bidrin or Dendrex by a certified arborist. If the tree is in an unthrifty condition, a multi-nutrient should also be injected into the tree to give it a boost. In late fall or early spring the tree should be deep root fertilized with the above preventative measures taken the following spring.

August Water...Wednesday, August 14, 2013

I am always amazed at how hot and dry the summers are here in Casper. People are continually calling our irrigation specialists wondering why their lawns have "brown spots." Last year in August it was so hot and windy that the leaves of some trees were actually scorching, drying, and falling off because they couldn't maintain their transpiration rate. (Transpiration is the rate at which Photosynthate moisture evaporates from the leaf structure). August seems to be the month that people just give up and decide that it is impossible to keep up with the watering needs of their landscapes. I have heard of people winterizing their irrigation systems in August or September and letting their landscapes fall into a drought- induced dormancy because they feel like they just can't water enough. However, July-September is the time that the plants are producing the much needed energy for next year. So whatever you do; DON'T STOP WATERING until after the first frost.

Plants generally like the hot weather if they have the adequate water that they need. Here are some tips and general advice about how to irrigate your landscape.


  • The landscape needs 1.5 inches of water each week during the growing season. This equates to nearly 1 gallon of water per square foot each week.
  • This water needs to be applied slowly so that it can be absorbed into the soil and used efficiently. This may require you to cycle through the zones multiple times during a watering session. For example: a zone that needs to run for 45 minutes can be split up into 3 consecutive 15 minute cycles over a 4 hour period.
  • Calculate the square feet of each landscape zone and then divide that number by the amount of gallons that each sprinkler head is putting out to arrive at a conclusion of how many minutes to run each zone. This scientific approach will take all of the guess work out of watering correctly.
  • Aerate your lawn at least 3 times each season to help it absorb and retain the water efficiently.
  • Keep a good mulch cover around the base of your ornamental plants to help them retain water.
  • The roots of most trees and shrubs in Casper are primarily growing in the top foot of soil.
  • Don't water for two consecutive days each week as this allows oxygen to enter the soil again. Plants cannot live without oxygen for their roots; and water dis-places that oxygen temporarily.
  • Have an irrigation specialist analyze your system and spend the money to get it working efficiently and effectively. This is called a "Water Audit."
  • Have an irrigation specialist install a "smart controller" which will utilize weather data to adjust your watering program.


Keep the water flowing; it is a worth- while investment and your plants will thank you.

CANKER DISEASE...Friday, August 2, 2013

Cankers are a fungus disease caused by a number of different pathogens and attack many varieties of trees; the following are general diagnosis and treatment practices.

SYMPTOMS
The disease is not usually conspicuous at first but once it gets started it first kills scattered twigs and then proceeds rapidly. Cankers form in all sizes and ages of stems. Cankers range in size from small brown spots to large lesions that involve both bark and cambium. Many cankers girdle twigs and branches causing die-back. The fungus may then move down into larger stems and cause perennial cankers possibly girdling the tree trunk causing premature yellowing of leaves, premature leaf drop, and possible death.

Canker diseases are most often spread in the spring and are most apt to attack those trees and ornamentals growing in infertile soil, weakened by insects and drought, or wounded plants (hail, construction, etc.). Canker diseases are most abundant in landscaped environments.

TREATMENTS
In Casper Canker diseases are the number one cause of death to trees and ornamentals. Canker diseases can attack most varieties of trees but are most prevalent in Poplar, Willow, Spruce, Cottonwood, Aspen, Maple, Locust, Elm, and Russian Olive.

When cankers are diagnosed in a tree, the tree should be micro-injected with a fungicide. If the tree appears to be in an unthrifty condition it would be recommended to micro-inject a combination of a fungicide and a fertilizer to give the tree a quick boost.

To build vigor in the tree a deep root feeding in the fall or very early spring is recommended. The two following springs a microinjection of a fungicide is recommended to suppress the canker disease and allow the plant to overcome the symptoms.

A three year program of proper fertilization, watering, and pest control will help the tree repair and maintain its vigor. Should the tree not show a positive response or stabilize after the first or second fungicide injection, it is an indication the disease has progressed too far to be controlled. It would be a waste of resources to micro-inject the tree only once (even if the response is good) and not follow up with the two consecutive spring treatments.



Image credit: aborscape.comimage

Tree Care Information from Aaron!...Wednesday, July 10, 2013

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Fifteen years ago I found myself mowing 70 of the most beautiful homes in the city of Casper each week. I am certain that I enjoyed these amazing landscapes even more than the people that lived in them. The smell of freshly cut grass, surrounded by breeze rustled leaves of every kind, with the sights of blooms and flowers changing with every season was enough to ignite my passion for everything green. This passion matured into a deep desire to understand why one plant thrived at one property, but failed to thrive at another property on the other side of Casper. This was the beginning of my quest to understand the unique and often difficult horticulture here in Casper, Wyoming.

One day back then, as I was mowing at a house on South Poplar Street, the owner of the home approached me to ask why a branch at the tip-top of his large, healthy Birch tree had died. I (being an avid rock climber) shinnied all the way to the top of that 30 foot tree to remove the branch. When I reached the top I paused to take in the view. I was astonished to see many of the Birch trees that lined Poplar Street at that time had the exact same dead branches at their crown’s tips. I knew instantly that this was a very big problem, so I went straight to my old friend Tom Heald who was a veteran horticulturalist. Tom explained to me that this die-back was caused by an insect called the Bronze Birch Borer, and that it needed to be treated quickly to prevent it from killing the entire tree. I called a certified arborist to have the tree treated immediately then and every single year after as I watched most of the beautiful Birch trees in Casper die from this destructive insect.

Realizing that Casper’s unique and often difficult growing conditions would be so challenging sent me straight to the text books. I spent the following years pursuing an extensive education about every single plant in this city and I went on to become a Certified Arborist by the International Society of Arboriculture. I have spent the past decade caring for thousands of trees here in Casper and I have found that every tree has specific needs but it begins with these three things.

1. Water deep and often, no matter the season.
2. Fertilize your trees. Casper soil isn't fertile and doesn't have enough of the nutrients your tree needs to thrive.
3. Use IPM (Integrated Pest Management). Have a certified arborist inspect your trees at least 3 times each season to make sure that some disease or insect isn’t killing them.

APHIDS...Wednesday, July 3, 2013

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Aphids are insects that attack a wide variety of trees and shrubs. Aphids are commonly found on Ash, Elm, Walnut, Willow, Cottonwood, Aspen, Apple, Linden, Snowball bushes, and many other ornamental trees and shrubs. Aphids first start to appear in spring to early summer, and can reproduce quickly depending on environmental conditions. An aphid population can increase in numbers very quickly.


SYMPTOMS AND LIFE CYCLE
Aphids are tiny soft-bodied insects that are found clustered together on the leaves of trees and shrubs. The leaves may appear to be curled, thickened or discolored. Damage occurs when the aphid sucks the juices out of the leaves. Since they are unable to fully digest all of the sugars in the plant sap, the insect excretes the excess in a liquid called “honeydew” which often drops onto leaves, branches, trunks, cars, sidewalks, patios, etc. A sooty mold may develop on the honeydew causing those surfaces to appear dirty. Ants feed on the honeydew and are often present in the areas that aphids are found.

Some aphids spend their entire life on one plant while others go from plant to plant. Aphids that hatch from over wintering eggs are wingless females that give birth to live aphids and can produce many generations throughout the summer. Some aphids are born with wings so that they can travel to less populated hosts. In the fall, the female aphid lays eggs in the bark for over wintering.

CONTROL
Aphids should be sprayed at the first sign of an infestation. This should be done with an insecticide such as Astro, Talstar, or Orthene. A certified arborist can also systemically inject a tree to control the present generation of aphids or to prove season long control, which should be done in the spring of the year.

Repeat applications may be necessary as re-infestation can occur. A follow-up application may be necessary as early as 21 days, as spraying only controls aphids present at the time of application.

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