Time To Adjust the Timers

10/06/2012 | Ken Lain, mountain gardener Landscaping, Plant Care

If your irrigation system’s water volume in September was the same as its volume for June, you need to change the timer settings. The length of time a tree needs to be watered in June is the same length of time that same tree should be watered in cool weather. What needs to be changed isn’t the length of time water runs, but the frequency of watering at each station. Irrigation cycles must water deeply to ensure that the entire root system receives adequate water; it just needs it less often. The amount of water increases only as plant size considerably increases.

When programming an irrigation clock you should be modifying how often each station cycles. Personally, I like using the station interval button instead of telling the clock which ‘Day of the Week’ to turn on my irrigation system. It doesn’t matter which day the clock runs, what matters is when the clock ran last and when it will come on again. I just changed my landscape trees and shrubs from a seven-day watering interval to every nine days. This results in a 23% savings of water consumption. Also, I changed my lawn from water every fourth day to being watered every five days.

Landscaping companies like an every other day watering schedule for newly planted yards. If your landscape is still on this heavy water cycle, this is a good time to change that frequency. Just be sure to maintain the same amount of water to encourage a deep root system. If you need help determining the right frequency for your landscape, ask for help from my staff or me. I created a convenient mini watering guide that fits inside the covers of most irrigation clocks. It is free for the asking.

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Autumn landscape colors are here! The high country of Arizona is famous for growing nice maples. If you plant the right variety it can require less care, with fewer problems than the same tree in the New England states. Some might call it “Blaze Maple”, but it is so at home in our area that I refer to it as the ‘Prescott Maple’. Just going into autumn color now, its leaves glow like embers in a blazing hot fire. This maple grows fast, loves our soil, the area’s extreme weather conditions, and stands up to our wind better than other maple varieties. It is perfect for patios, hot sunny walls, driveways, and anyplace shade is needed. October is the ideal month to plant a large maple specimen. Get it rooted now and this tree will burst into vibrant life in spring.

Most properties don’t have many trees. You actually can count on one hand the number of trees in the average landscape. Trees stand out in any landscape like anchors that bring together the foundation of a good plan. Also, don’t forget that trees increase the value of a landscape more than spas and grills.

If you are thinking of a new tree, don’t waste money by cutting corners. Trees are where the landscape value is and is no place to pinch pennies. Buy the best-looking tree you can find, the bigger the better. Nice looking trees at the garden center turn into big, bold specimens as they mature. An ugly tree stays ugly most its adult life. Cut landscape dollars on shrubs, flowers, and hedges so your budget can afford a few specimen-sized trees to enhance your outdoor areas.

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The most important plant feeding of the year is in October. Plants are like bears getting ready for their winter hibernation; for sustenance they store up food in their roots like bears store up body fat. Plants use this food to create next spring’s flower and leaf buds. In addition, this feeding is especially important for conifers to fend off pinion pine scale and bark beetle damage.

Deador Cedar, Cypress, and Pine are notorious for losing their green color and becoming pale, dry, and yellow in mid-winter. The secret to keeping evergreens green is the right plant food. October feeding of conifers is critical to prevent damage this winter and promote better growth in the coming year. Evergreens respond amazingly well to my specially formulated “All Purpose Plant Food”.

Many of the native evergreens are under attack by scale, bark beetles, borers, aphids, and grubs. Make sure to include natives when feeding your landscape, as they will use this food to combat their natural enemies. Again, the “All Purpose Plant Food” was intended for landscape ornamentals, but it works just effectively on the natives in our yards.

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Several newly widowed customers have asked for gardening help this year. With the aging of America this is a growing need, especially if the departed spouse used to take care of feeding, weeding, and de-bugging a home’s landscape. Many garden centers offer monthly services to apply all fertilizers and amendments, and to administer bug and weed controls. The homeowner sees to other general gardening tasks and that the lawn is mowed. Inquire about this service at your favorite garden center if this sounds like a description of your situation.

Until next week, see you at the garden center.