Monthly Archives

July 2019

Chafer beetle battles: time for nematodes

By | Lawn Care | No Comments

This week is the third week of July and that means it’s time to buy nematodes to your lawn, if it’s suffering from European Chafer Beetle damage. Chafers are invasive insect pests and the larvae feed on the roots of grasses which causes serious damage to lawns.

 

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Animals looking for grubs can destroy your lawn overnight.

 

 

Then later we get animals digging up lawns looking for juicy grubs and lawns are destroyed overnight.

Chafer beetles are here to stay, too. But we can take the fight to them.

 

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Juicy grub from this spring.

 

Nematodes

If you failed to pre-order nematodes earlier in the season then just go down to your favourite garden store and ask if they have any in stock. Nematodes are tiny worms that live in the soil. If you apply them correctly they will chase down Chafers in your lawn. Do this in late July.  You might want to read my previously published blog to see how I did it.

Chafer cycle

Chafer beetles emerge out of lawns and soil in June and fly into trees to mate. Then they go back into lawns to lay their young.

 

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A very pregnant Chafer beetle heading for the lawn.

 

This is why the late July nematode application is critical. Once the grubs get too big the nematodes aren’t effective.

So, let’s review: buy nematodes in the third week of July and apply them in late July.

Follow the directions carefully. Your lawn should be soaked before nematode application and after. Also, remember that nematodes are photo-sensitive. Direct sunlight will kill them so apply them early in the morning or evening.

This is my blog post about my residential application. It might help you.

Lawn care

According to municipal handouts, healthy lawns should only need an hour of watering a week. Keep your grass at least 6cm high and leave the clippings on your lawn. The clippings serve as free fertilizer.

 

Conclusion

Keep your lawn healthy. If you have Chafer damage buy nematodes now and apply them at the end of July. Follow the directions. And pray!

 

 

Eliminating early summer obstructions in landscapes

By | Pruning | No Comments

I love the early summer season. The weather is nice and the landscape is lush green. But with the new lush green growth come issues. People start panicking and assaulting their busy green workers with requests.

And often the requests turn out to be minor issues, easily solved with a bit pruning. For any bigger requests, write them down and do them on your next visit.

Let’s take a look at some recent examples.

 

Mailbox crisis

Last week I was approached by an elderly gentleman who clearly wasn’t impressed by the mailbox Clematis. The vine interfered with the pick up of his junk mail so he asked me to take care of it. Sure. The whole operation, not counting clean-up blow, took me about ten minutes.

 

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To an elderly resident this is a crisis.

 

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This should do.

 

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Not a bad show for a mailbox kiosk.

 

Gate

 

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Again, this is hardly a disaster. Plus, the Hydrangea is blooming nicely. But to the lady living in this unit this is a major annoyance because she has to push the gate open. And as she does so the gate bounces off the plant and back into her body.

Luckily, I was on site helping out and took care of it right away. Always do this if it doesn’t interfere with your day plan. Of course, I did warn her that she would lose some of her flowers. No big deal. She didn’t care.

 

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All done! Problem solved.

 

Signs

 

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Signs are posted for a good reason; to warn or inform, not for fun. And again, this was a quick fix with my hand snips. The dogwood shrub (Cornus) can also be power sheared but I prefer nice precise cuts.

 

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This was an easy two-minute fix.

 

As plants push out new growth in early summer you can expect to get some interference. Usually it’s not the disaster people make it out to be. So take care of it right away if possible. All of the examples above were quick fixes and the residents appreciated it. Always make your clients happy!

 

Making the case for attention to detail in landscape maintenance

By | gardening, landscape maintenance | No Comments

Details matter a great deal. I was recently called to a residential garden with lawn care and pruning clearly completed well. But what about the details? Many details remained and taken together, they detract from the overall presentation. So, I got to work.

Details

Blackberry and salmon berry shoots protruding from the cedar hedge and shrubs were by far the biggest blemishes. So, I cut them down which sounds easy until you see the wild zone at the back of the cedar hedge. The school board never maintains the wild zone so of course it allows all kinds of undesirables to encroach on the neighbouring landscape.

 

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Blackberry and Salmon berry invasion in progress.

 

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After my intervention.

 

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Much better!

 

Ferns

I also found two ferns on the side of the patio and cut them back. They are native sword ferns (Polystichum munitum) and only require one annual cutback after new fronds push out.

 

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Much better and we’re good for another twelve months.

 

Weeds

Nobody likes picking weeds but the side of the house was starting to “burn”. The rock layer isn’t deep enough to deprive the weeds of sunlight so they poke out of the landscape fabric.

 

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These weeds had to go.

 

Tree branches

 

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It’s a small detail but one dead branch pointing down (see white arrow) is unsightly and it presents an obstacle for lawn care people. So grab a sharp hand saw and make it disappear.

Why you should never trust metal grates

By | health and safety, landscape maintenance | No Comments

Why you should never trust metal grates

 

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Never trust metal grates on your sites. I found out the hard way today after safely working on top of several sets while pruning shrubs. Then I got cocky by concentrating on my shrub pruning and not testing the grates. And one failed! As they sometimes do.

Luckily, I was using extendable shears so when I plummeted down the moving blades were far away from me. Unfortunately, during the brief fall my right shin met the hard edge causing me immediate discomfort. If I hadn’t been wearing rubber rain pants and long pants my shin would have been much uglier.

I retrieved a first aid kit from one of our work trucks and, after washing the wound and dressing it, I drove myself to my local health clinic. There I was coldly told that the doctors there didn’t do stitches.

Emergency

Aha. So, I walked to emergency nearby and waited.

After two interviews and a check of my vital signs I was moved to a bed inside. And I was ready with a print out of the July issue of the Altucher Report. Emergency doesn’t mean urgency. It takes forever to see a doctor.

Once, when my son was a little baby he wouldn’t stop coughing so I rushed him to the same emergency. By the time the doctor on duty showed up, my son was soundly asleep! Emergency, yeah right.

Dr. Quon checked my puncture wound and confirmed that I would need freezing and two stitches. And everything went well until he left his summer intern in charge of closing the wound. Let’s just say she struggled a little bit.

It also didn’t help that the patient next to me moaned non-stop until she got the medication she begged for.

 

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This is the family friendly photo of my shin puncture wound waiting for two stitches.

 

Conclusion

Let’s review: a) never trust metal grates on site because inevitably one will fail and b) make sure your company vehicles have first aid kits; you will need them one day and it also complies with WCB rules.

And don’t get cocky, stay safe.

Another shocking waste of time

By | landscape maintenance, machines | No Comments

New landscape foremen gain experience as they work in the field with their crews and you can expect them to surprise you. I often think I’ve seen it all, but it’s not true; I will never run out of blog topics.

Consider my recent visit to one work site. The foreman and his helper were behind on mid-season pruning and finesse work. Really behind so I was called in to help out. That’s my role as landscape supervisor. I help out and train workers as we go.

Polished heads, really?

After finishing line edging, I found both workers by the truck washing and polishing their line edger heads!? Completely shocked and annoyed, I asked them why we were polishing machine attachments at ten o’clock when there was tons of pruning and weeding to do. “That’s how I like it” was the foreman’s reply.

 

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A nicely polished head but what’s the use when your site is burning?

 

Luckily, I kept calm and left to resume pruning. But this sort of time wasting shows the crew’s inexperience. They wash and polish attachments that will get dirty again the next day instead of doing important work. Logistics can be done at the end of the day before the crew leaves the site. Ten o’clock in the morning is prime time for pruning and weeding.

Blind

The crew’s inability to see their time wasting and lack of focus is extremely shocking. Having extra people on site should have been a good hint. But no, they polish their attachments after every use and chat while their sites burn. The front entrance area was full of large weeds and it could have been cleaned up in the time it took to polish two attachments.

So, what is a landscape supervisor to do? Well, first I write a blog post about it to educate others about time wasting in landscape maintenance. Second, I went online to have some fun. I posted a question on several lawn care Facebook groups, asking their members how many of them washed their line edger heads after every use.

Results

Because the Facebook groups are populated by professional lawn care dudes who run their own shows they laughed hard. Not a single individual washed his attachments after every use. That’s because most of them run businesses; they don’t work by the hour for bosses. They hustle all day so they don’t have time to waste.

My way

Following the latest feedback research, I informed the crew what I would do. I would focus on the site by taking care of mid-season pruning and finesse work. Then, if I still worried about the condition of my attachments, I would polish them after loading up the truck at the end of the day. Maybe. In practice, I never polish my attachments. I lubricate them periodically; and I replace worn out parts.

Focus on real work, never waste time!

How I discovered Kelowna’s Japanese garden

By | gardening, Reviews | No Comments

It makes me smile every time I make a pleasant garden discovery. My last discovery happened thanks to my wife, a snow country girl from the West Coast of Japan. She checked tourist information sites for Kelowna because my son had fall league soccer matches there all weekend. And bang, there was a Japanese garden tucked behind Kelowna’s city hall. It was something like a five minute drive from our hotel and it was free! The sunny fall weather helped, too.

 

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Japanese gardens

Two important things about Japanese gardens. One, the Japanese love nature and it’s reflected in their gardens. Forget religion and various Zen trinkets. It’s just that they live on a small, crowded mountainous island so large private gardens are reserved for the rich.

Two, there is lots of room left for your imagination. It’s not like Western gardens where there is so much stuffed into the garden your eyes don’t know where to look first. I love this about Japanese gardens. They can do so much with some Azaleas, moss and stone. Spaces between plants are extremely important.

Kasugai

Kasugai is Kelowna’s sister city and it’s from that relationship that this garden developed. The garden is small; my kids burned through it in no time because they were thinking about lunch. I took a bit longer because I had research to do for my blog.

I noted the common Japanese garden features: gazebo to sit in, rock garden, lantern, bridge, pond and stream with koi carp fish.

 

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My favourite trees

As soon as walked into the garden, I noticed a specimen of my favourite tree, Albizia julibrissin. Unfortunately, in October the beautiful fragrant flowers are long gone. When you get up close the flowers tickle your nose. The fragrance must be experienced because I can’t describe fragrances.

The garden also sports another tree species I love. Davidia involucrata. In summer, when the round fruit is partially covered by the involucre, you understand the common names given to this tree. Ghost or handkerchief tree. I prefer ghost because the first time I looked up into this tree in a Vancouver daycare, the fruits covered in long white involucres looked like ghosts. I wonder if the kids ever noticed.

Stop by

If you have some time to kill in Kelowna, definitely stop by this free Japanese garden. It’s well worth the visit.

 

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Pro blogger Vas researching…..