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Frequently Asked Questions

General Maintenance

When is the best time to prune?
As my wonderful prof at The University of Tennessee, Dr. Don Williams, used to say, "There is only one good time to prune and that it is when the knife is sharp." Generally speaking, he is correct—with only a few exceptions. Ornamental trees and shrubs can be pruned as needed not having to be too particular to time of year. Crape myrtles should always be left alone until spring with the exception of maybe pruning out the old seed pods. Most other plants can be pruned when ever you like.
If I prune my azaleas in the late summer or fall will it effect how much they bloom in the spring?
Yes, this is an easy one. If you prune ten nice branches off your ten year old azalea chances are it will bloom less. Why? Because you cut off ten nice branches. It is best to always prune and fertilize flowering shrubs after they bloom. This promotes healthy green new foliage that waits to appear until after blooming has occurred. Fertilizing before sometimes pushes the new foliage out on top of blooms which may hide your beautiful azaleas showy color.
I want a good low maintenance landscape. How do I get this?
Good no maintenance landscapes equal concrete and even it needs a good cleaning once a year. Good low maintenance landscapes require good planning. Poor design is the cause of most problems in a landscape. Trees planted too close to corners of houses or 50 shrubs planted where only 6 should go. These as well as other problems are usually a result of over designing or not designing at all. Designers need to have a very good idea of how large things grow at maturity and plan according. Overgrown planting beds become very high maintenance and are a waste of money.

Lawn Care

I want to renovate my lawn. When is the best time to do this?
Simple rules in lawn care and renovation apply. Keep an eye on our Garden Planner section to see what comes next for your lawn. A general rule of thumb is that you should weed prevent and fertilize your lawn in the spring and summer and overseed, lime and fertilize in the fall and early winter. This does not include waiting until the big snow comes and throwing out seed right before hand. I am still looking for the person that knows the person that does this and has it work for them.
What is the best seed to buy?
To have the best results in our area you should purchase a hybrid fescue blend. Often times irrigation is required to have nice fescue lawns through the summer months but it is not a have to. Purchasing a hybrid fescue blend and planting it in Mid to late September will give the seed plenty of cool weather (6 months) to germinate and set it?s roots? well before the summer droughts return.
Why is having a nice fescue lawn so expensive and are there other options?
Tall fescues which includes, all hybrids are considered to be cool season grasses. Bermuda grass and zoysia grass s are considered to be warm season grasses. Middle East Tennessee is considered a transition area between the two. It is sometimes too warm in the summer for fescue and can occasionally be too cold for Bermuda grass. This is why you see so many lawn chemical companies in our area. Maintaining a nice fescue lawn is difficult and expensive. Bermudas and Zoysias are an option in our area but can and have been completely killed out in our area during cold dry single digit winters. Just ask your nicer golf courses if you don't believe me.
What can I do to maintain a nice hybrid fescue lawn if I do not have irrigation?
Three keys to a successful lawn without breaking the bank. 1.Mow Mow: Fescue lawns prefer to be mowed high and often. Start in your first month of mowing at the highest setting on your mower. Preferably 3 to 3 ? inches. Each month lower your wheels one notch, so by the end of the season you will be mowing your grass at 2? or so. Then as soon as summer ends and it is football season raise the mower back to the place you started in spring. This formula works. Why? Plants including grasses live with and equal amount of root system to support an equal amount of foliage. When we mow our grass very high at 3 inches we build a root system to support that much foliage. And the foliage maintains that much root system. As summer approaches and water decreases we lower our mower so that the roots have less foliage to support. The roots slowly each month loose there size as well, so we notch the mower down again. As soon as cool weather comes we raise the mower height back to where we started to rebuild or roots for the next season. Not mowing often enough causes roots to have to stress to supply water and nutrients to the extra foliage. Then a big drought comes along and our grass suffers. 2. Fertilization: I recommend only fertilizing your lawn once each spring with a good slow release fertilizer 18-10-10 or so. More than one fertilizing causes too much growth and too much mowing and not enough family time. On occasion if we have had a tremendous amount of spring rain I will apply a light second application in late summer. 3. Preemergent weed control: This crabgrass preventer is a must for all lawns in East Tennessee. This product is to prevent crabgrass not broadleaf weeds. It should be applied in late February and again in late June. You can find good products just about anywhere.

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