DLC Wins Three Awards of Excellence

Arizona landscape contractors were honored at “The Thirty Sixth Annual Arizona Excellence in Landscaping Awards” program sponsored by The Arizona Landscape Contractors’ Association (ALCA). DLC was honored to receive a ‘Judges Award’ for Desert Mountain Community Association and an ‘Award of Distinction’ for both Scottsdale Ranch and Sonoran Foothills Community Associations. These awards are judged by our peers in the green industry and are based on the highest standards of achievement, harmony with the environment and creativity.

Dormant Bermuda

Improved Turf Health

beautiful dormant bermudaRegular overseeding can cause your warm season, hybrid Bermuda grass to be sparse, weak or prone to problems. The overseeding process inhibits the buildup of the reserves that Bermuda grass needs to make it through the winter, which means there will be less energy for re-growth in the spring. When warm weather arrives, the strong Ryegrass competes with the dormant Bermuda for sunlight, water, nutrients and even oxygen. This competition keeps Bermuda from gaining strength through the summer and by the time the Ryegrass finally recedes, the weak Bermuda may not have spread as much as it should have.

Suspending the overseeding process for at least one season restores the root system of the Bermuda that would otherwise be damaged during the cooler months. Suspending overseeding also allows the Bermuda to store the necessary nutrients needed for vigorous growth in the warm season. There are some simple steps you can take to care for your dormant Bermuda that will help it grow back stronger and thicker in the next growing season while saving you money, time and frustration.

First, in October, begin reducing the irrigation water amount by 50%. Before your grass goes dormant, in mid-November, put down an 11-52-0 winterizing fertilizer to prepare for the next season of Bermuda. After the first frost of the season, stop watering your plant material altogether. Not only does not overseeding help improve the health of your Bermuda grass, for every season you forgo overseeding, you save over 8,000 gallons of water per 1,000 square feet of grass.

Your New Winter Routine

While Bermuda is dormant, it only needs to be mowed twice a month to achieve a clean and even appearance. During the two weeks you do not mow, fill ruts and indentions with screened fill dirt to eliminate hazards and prepare your lawn to look its springtime best. Controlling weeds with a post-emergent herbicide during Bermuda’s dormant months takes advantage of the natural cycle of the Bermuda to combat the weeds. We recommend using Triple Strike, a product commonly found at your local home improvement store, for grassy or broad leaf weeds growing in dormant Bermuda lawns. If you overseeded your lawn and have weeds growing in your winter Ryegrass, you may wish to consult a Certified Pest Applicator; find one at http://www.sb.state.az.us/PCProfSearch.php

When the soil temperature reaches 70 degrees, typically when daytime temperatures are consistently in the 90s, your Bermuda will come out of hibernation and begin showing the results of your winter labor. Just before or as that happens, put down a 21-0-0 fertilizer to stimulate growth and enhance color. Also, begin watering again two to three days a week, adjusting your schedule for temperature and rainfall.

Caring for your Landscape: Fertilizing Ryegrass

Fertilizing Your Winter Lawn

Proper fertilization of your overseeded lawn is essential for healthy growth and good color during Arizona’s winter season. However, over-fertilization will increase your water bill and require more frequent mowing. The following tips will guide you on your way to a successful, and cost efficient, fertilization process.

Healthy Lawn After Fertilization

Fertilizing for Success

Ryegrass requires regular fertilization. During the winter months, apply a fertilizer, such as ammonium nitrate which is formulated for colder temperatures, to your lawn approximately every three to four weeks from November to February. The optimal time to fertilize your lawn is early in the morning when the dew is heavy. The dew causes you to leave tracks as you’re walking across the lawn and it’ll be easier to see where you’ve been. Also, there is less wind and the fertilizer is less likely to blow around. Always follow the directions on the package. Additionally, you may want to consider applying ferrous sulfate or iron chelates. These two products help keep grass green while reducing excess growth. All of the products mentioned above can be found at your local home improvement store or nursery.

A hand spreader is an essential tool for properly fertilizing your lawn.

Avoid Over-fertilization

When grass is over-fertilized, salt builds up and dries out the soil, eventually killing the grass. Often, we just put the fertilizer in the spreader and start. Resist the urge to skip over the package instructions. While having a plan in place and following a schedule can be helpful, nothing beats routine inspections. Regularly monitoring your lawn will help you pre-empt any issues that may arise due to over or under-fertilzation.

QUICK TIP FROM THE EXPERTS: If you notice the tips of grass blades turning brown, it is likely a sign of salt build up or over-fertilization. The best thing to do is to run a one-time extended irrigation cycle. This will help leach or push the salt buildup from over-fertilization down below the roots.


Caring For Your Plants: Treating Oleander Blight

What is Oleander Blight?

Oleanders are evergreen shrubs capable of living in the harsh desert environment. Oleanders are popular due to their ability to produce vibrant, brightly colored flowers in the summer months. However, they can fall victim to bacterial blight (also known as leaf scorch). The disease often presents as black or brown spots on the leaves. The bacteria is most often spread by rain and high moisture environments. Spray treatments are generally uneffective in removing the disease.

Healthy Oleander

Managing the Disease

There is no known cure for Oleander blight. Pruning out the part of the plant showing symptoms may improve the physical appearance of the Oleander tree or shrub but will not save the plant.

The bacterial disease is limited to the xylem and can be spread from plant to plant by xylem-feeding insects such as the glassy-winged sharpshooter. Because of the year-round abundance of the glassy-winged sharpshooter, insecticides available on

the market are not effective in stopping the spread of the disease. The best management is early removal of plants infected with the Oleander blight bacteria to reduce the chance of it spreading.

Oleander exhibiting signs of leaf scorch

Controlling Oleander Blight

1. Prune branches showing symptoms of Oleander blight with pruning shears. These shears should be cleaned with a diluted bleach solution between cuts to prevent further spread.

2. Water plants directly into the soil beneath the plant. Avoid watering the foliage, as wet leaves and flowers can cause blight to thrive.

3. Fertilize conservatively. Over-fertilizing creates an environment conducive to blight.

4. Remove Oleanders with canker growths on the trunk or that have damage over the majority of the plant. These shrubs are unlikely to recover and could spread the bacteria to other plants.

Fairy Ring; A Bizarre Fungi Phenomenon

What is Fairy Ring?

Story A:

A fairy ring in a suburban lawn

The name fairy ring is the result of an old folk-tale. People once thought that mushrooms growing in a circle followed the path created by fairies dancing in a ring.

Story B:
A conflicting story from European folkore suggests that fairy rings are the gateway to elfin kingdoms, or places where elves gather and dance. According to folklore, a fairy ring pops up when a fairy, pixie or elf appears. It will disappear without a trace in less than five days, but if an observer waits for the elf to return to the ring, he or she may be able to capture it.

“Plucked from the Fairy Circle”
A man saves his friend from the grip of a fairy ring

Scientifically Speaking…

Fairy rings are also commonly known as fairy circle, elf circle, elf ring or pixie ring. Fairy rings can grow to over 33 ft in diameter. The body of this fungus, its mycelium, is underground. It grows outward in a circle. As it grows, the mycelium uses up all of the nutrients in the soil, starving the grass. This is the reason a fairy ring has dead grass over the growing edge of the mycelium. Umbrella-shaped mushrooms spring up from just behind the outer edge of the mycelium creating the fairy ring.

In most cases, fairy rings are a minor nuisance. If left alone, they will eventually grow out and die off. If you wish to remove them, a simple rake is most often the weapon of choice. If handling the mushrooms, wear gloves and/or wash your hands when done.

Clitocybe nebularis in part of ring

For more treatment options, please visit The Arizona Cooperative Extension website at: extension.arizona.edu