SBS Blog

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Mar 02, 2015

Winter can be cruel

Winter can be very cruel to the landscape, especially after the week we just had here in north Texas of snow, sleet and freezing temperatures. This weather can also play havoc on plants in the landscape, more specifically the early bloomers. I know in our last blog post we talked about signs to look for in the landscape for cold damage, this blog I want to touch on what the snow and sleet can do to your plants that were blooming before the weather changed. We had some unseasonably warm weather during winter that caused some of the trees and flowers to bloom well before they should have. What that can do to your trees and flowers is set them back on their blooming. Many blooming trees such as fruit trees may not even re-bloom for the spring and may just leaf out in the spring. Without blooms there will be no fruit harvest. Something to keep in mind. Some bulbs that were blooming may bloom later in the season. Each plant is different and it would be wise to keep an eye on your landscape this coming spring. Did you have any plants or trees that bloomed before spring? ...READ MORE

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Feb 02, 2015

Frost Damage

Unseasonable warm weather that has us all thinking about spring. It is right around the corner whether we are ready for it or not, but we are not quite out of winter just yet. Temperature fluctuations can be very hard on plants causing premature budding and new growth. Thanks to our lovely Texas weather, we could have a freeze in the middle of having warmer temperatures that can burn back any new growth of your landscape. There are signs to look for if you think your landscape has experienced cold burn from a freeze. If your shrubs have pushed new growth they may have brown leaves or even blackened ends. If you have annual or perennials in your landscape there is a good chance the foliage looks soggy or mushy, which is a normal symptom of a freeze. Trees will show cold damage a bit differently, they may defoliate if any new leaves or existing leaves were present, but that does not mean they are dead. Trees may also have blackened ends where new growth was burned back as well. The best thing to do when you have damaged leaves or burnt ends is to remove it from the plant and give them a chance to push new foliage. Frost damage can be in different forms for different plants. What have you experienced in your landscape that may have received frost damage, and what did you do as a result? ...READ MORE

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Jan 12, 2015

Cold Damage

Protecting your landscape should be on everyone’s mind during our cold winter season. Cold temperatures can be very devastating to your landscape when left unprotected. Winds and cold temperatures can cause freeze damage to limbs, leaves and roots. It is very important to mulch and protect tender plants and shrubs soon if you have not already. Mulch can help lessen the impact of harsh winds and temperatures for all plants in the landscape. Water is also a key factor to maintain your landscape during the winter. Winter is typically a dry season here in the D/FW area. We do occasionally get rain and snow, but it should not be the only watering the landscape receives during the winter. Supplemental watering once or twice every few weeks should be sufficient if we do not receive rain or snow. How do you protect your landscape from the winter weather? ...READ MORE

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Dec 31, 2014

Why is Compost Important?

We are told at one point or another to add compost to our gardens and landscapes, but why? Why should anyone add compost to their existing landscape? Here’s why. First, we need define what compost is exactly. According to Merriam-Webster, compost is “a mixture that consists largely of decayed organic matter and is used for fertilizing and conditioning land”. Compost sounds simple enough and has really interesting benefits of fertilizing and conditioning the land. Let us explore both of those two topics further. Compost as a soil conditioner. To begin, compost as a soil or “land” conditioner. A fully finished compost contains some of the macro and micro nutrients plants need for survival, but they also contain microbes for soil biology. Believe it or not, all soil is a living system! Native soils contain naturally occurring microbes that are extremely active in the decomposition process of green material (leaves, fallen branches, etc.) and in turn feed the soil to make it nutrient rich for other living organisms, such as plants, to survive. Adding compost to existing soil adds new microbial biology that keeps the soil active providing nutrients to plant life both by the compost itself and the biology as it decomposes in the soil. As one can see, it is beneficial for the soil to have compost added. Now, if you are more synthetic in the way you garden, you may not have as active microbial activity opposed to those who are more organic in the way they garden. Don’t fret, you can still reap the benefits of compost. Compost as a fertilizer: Compost can be used as a slow release fertilizer in the landscape. Keep in mind, compost is rarely ever labeled as a fertilizer even though it can be used as such. As stated before, finished compost contains some of the macro and micro nutrients plants need for survival. When compost is applied it acts as a slow feed as it continues to decompose. Granted, compost is not as quick to show results as a synthetic fertilizer, compost is the more earth friendly of the two. In addition, compost will help transform the otherwise stagnant soil by introducing biological life back in, which fertilizer cannot accomplish. Fertilizer is a short-term fix, and is commonly misused and causes plants to become more and more dependent on the next nutrient blast, kind of like a synthetic fertilizer junkie. Compost on the other hand is one of the organic options for those looking to reduce pollutants in landscapes and water systems. Compost may be applied as a top dressing to lawns and landscapes leaching nutrients to plant roots. Compost can also be tilled into landscape beds making nutrients available directly at the plants root system. These are the most common ways compost can be used as a fertilizer. Why haven’t you added compost to your landscape? There are benefits to adding compost to your landscape as a soil conditioner or as a fertilizer. There is a beauty to using compost and how it works with the natural biology of soil. If you have not already added compost to your landscape, go for it! It is for the health of your landscape. What different ways have you used compost in the landscape?...READ MORE

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Dec 05, 2014

The value of mulch in landscapes.

Mulch comes in many different colors and materials, but what is the benefit of adding it to the landscape? Mulch is the hero for the landscape bed, always protecting plants. Using natural materials such as wood products for landscapes is best. Natural wood based mulches have many benefits for landscapes starting by protecting your plants. Mulch is your first defense against the cold and the heat of our seasons. Mulch will keep your roots warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s hot. Frozen or burned roots can cause plant death and can be very expensive to replace. Mulch is also great for water retention in the landscape. Mulch keeps a moist barrier between the upper surface and where the mulch meets the soil providing extra moisture retention so landscapes can be watered less. Mulch also helps feed your landscape. Where mulch meets the surface of the soil microbial activity activates and microbes break down the mulch and slowly feeding the landscape. Replenish mulch once or twice a year is normal for healthy microbial activity in landscapes. Now that we talked about the health benefits of adding mulch to your landscape, there are the aesthetics of it mulch too! Mulch can add a clean finishing touch to any landscape. Mulch lays flat adding a color accent against plants. Mulch can come in browns, blacks, reds and sometimes any color of the rainbow. It can be mute or bright, changing the feel and flow of any landscape. What other ways has mulch added value to your landscape? ...READ MORE

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Dec 05, 2014

What can happen with an unfinished compost?

We all know the benefits of adding compost to our landscape beds, but what happens if you add an unfinished compost? When compost is breaking down microbes use existing nutrients to break down for decomposition. Adding unfinished compost to a landscape can pull away nutrients from plant root systems and surrounding soils while finishing the decomposition process. Unfinished compost can also cause chlorosis (yellowing of plants) as it pulls away nutrients from new and existing plants. If you have ever experienced landscape beds shrinking/sinking, this is also a symptom of compost that has not yet finished going through the decomposition process. Unfinished compost will finish decomposing one way or another and it can be very detrimental to landscapes, therefore, you should only install finished compost. Have you ever experienced any of these symptoms, or other problems, due to poor quality / unfinished compost? ...READ MORE

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Dec 05, 2014

How do you tell if a compost is finished?

Compost is very useful in the landscape adding nutrients and making for a nutrient rich growing environment, but how do you know if it is finished? Figuring out if it is finished can be tricky if you don’t know what you are looking for. What we look for in a finished compost is as follows; A rich dark brown color - You should not see any light colored material in a finished compost. Light colored material such as wood and leaf material. Rounded edges - If there are wood pieces in the compost that is ok, they just haven’t finished breaking down but are fully composted. What should be noted is that it should not have any sharp edges. Microbes will eat away the ends of wood and round out their shape. Sharp edges is not finished compost. There should be no “smell” - Compost should not smell like leaves or wood breaking down, it should have no “odor” of decomposition at all. What do you look for in a fully finished compost? ...READ MORE

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