Upgrading to Sustainable Landscapes

Posted by Chris Sabbarese on Mon, Sep, 30, 2019 @ 14:09 PM

Ask homeowners what they think a sustainable landscape is and you'll like get many differing opinions. Most likely, it will include a sparsely-planted landscape that is primarily rocks or gravel. In reality, a sustainable landscape is quite beautiful with flowering plants, trees, grasses and shrubs. Not only do they use less water, they can require less maintenance, invite beneficial pollinators like butterflies and birds, while still being visually aesthetic for the entire neighborhood. Regardless what zone you live in, a sustainable landscape is an upgrade without compromise. Want to know more? We caught up with Cynthia Bee of Jordan Valley Water Conservancy who shares her insights on how to take the leap towards sustainability in this interview and GILN podcast episode.

Dispelling the Myth - It isn't ZERO-scape

During a recent visit to Salt Lake City, UT for a garden conference, one of the most interesting educational sessions was "Selling Sustainable Landscapes". Fellow GardenComm member and Outreach Coordinator, Cynthia Bee of the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy, helps to educate home owners on what sustainable landscapes really look like. The term Xeriscape has been gaining in popularity in western states who deal with drought on an regular basis. However some homeowners, think it's called ZERO-scape and means they will have no landscape. It's unfortunate that a sound principle design has resulted in many perceiving a landscape such as this.

localscapes-101-11-1024courtesy of Localscapes

In reality, a sustainable landscape can be lush, green, beautiful and functional. It's a fundamental shift for a homeowner to view landscape differently. Instead of making grass the predominant feature, it can be a smaller functional focal point. We've been ingrained to use lawn to achieve a beautiful landscape however Cynthia points out there are alternatives which JVWC promotes in their Localscapes program. Instead of looking sparse with no curb appeal, it can be dramatic and quite often considered an upgrade over a traditional landscape.

seedum-resizedcourtesy of Localscapes

Benefits of Upgrading to Sustainable Landscape

There are some obvious benefits to a sustainable landscape. First and foremost is saving water which is better for the environment and will save on your monthly water bill. Now if you live in an area where there is ample rain fall, a sustainable landscape can require less to maintain when done correctly. Cynthia shared an example of a homeowner who upgraded to a sustainable landscape that reduced the time to cut and maintain it, from 45 minutes to just 7 minutes! It also can provide a great habitat for wildlife including butterflies and birds. Other benefits include weed control. When you control the water, you can control the spread of weeds!



Getting from Traditional to Sustainable Landscapes

Cynthia outlined that many homeowners don't even realize they have a problem so it's difficult to sell them a solution they don't think they need. When you talk about conserving water, many homeowners think they are already conserving water inside their home, without thinking of the water being wasted in the landscape. Water use in a landscape can be up to 70% of their overall usage. Being able to show them they can still have the things that are important to them and changing what is less important, can have a huge impact. It's getting them to see landscape differently, and when they do, they will seek out new creative and sustainable elements.


Hear the Interview on the Green Industry Leaders Network Podcast

Whether you are a homeowner or a landscape contractor, Cynthia Bee shares some great insights on the JVWC program called Localscapes, on this episode. It's a great discussion that can change how you look at your landscape design. You can listen to the our complete interview and helpful information, 24/7 on the Green Industry Leaders Network podcast.

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Topics: gardening, Landscaping, planting, trees, shrubs, sustainable

What to Know About Fall Planting

Posted by Chris Sabbarese on Wed, Aug, 28, 2019 @ 16:08 PM

Many gardeners think about planting in spring when the weather starts to warm up. However when it comes to weather and temperatures, fall and spring are very similar. There are some big advantages to planting shrubs and trees in fall so we've talked to expert, Stacey Hirvella with Proven Winners, to share some fall planting tips and other do's and don'ts this time of year. Planting in fall is ideal since cooler temperatures will help with root growth and plant development, soil retains more moisture and a thick lay of mulch will help protect new plants from freezing temperatures throughout winter. Read on to learn more about fall planting and garden activities and why you should put your pruners and fertilizer away this time of year.

Why Fall is Ideal for Planting

Many people think plant in the fall is out since winter is right around the corner. They think a newly planted shrub or tree will not survive. But when properly planted in fall, the shortened days will trigger dormancy. This allows a plant to put energy into root growth and development. Instead of trying to push out new leaves and flowers. Because the temperatures are also cooler, it's not only optimal for root growth, there is less water evaporation. Rainy weather also minimizes the need to water. You can also find some amazing deals on plants in local garden centers as it gets closer to freezing weather.

Fall planting with corona shovel

When Should You Be Planting

There is no magical date on the calendar to tell gardeners, it's time to start planting. Depending on your zone, Stacey indicated you can safely plant up until about 6 weeks before the ground freezes in cold climates. In hot climates that rarely see freezing temperatures, plant when night time temperatures are in the 50s. It's also a good time to plant bulb flowers in fall to help force their blooms in the spring. She also mentions that Halloween is a great time to buy bulbs since there are some steep discounts and closeouts on remaining inventory. So there is plenty to do in the garden this time of year!



Fall Planting and Gardening Do's and Don'ts

Apply Mulch - a thick layer of shredded mulch to extend the window of optimal root growth and conserve water, especially important or plants with shallow roots.
Watch for water – keep an eye on moisture in the soil roots moist are moist and don’t let the ground freeze dry
Use Fall Leaves - they act as a great mulch and provide a habitat for garden wildlife

 corona fork mulch

Plants susceptible to winter damage – butterfly bush, bluebeard, evergreens
Push hardiness zone experiments - planting too close to freeze date or plants not suited for the zone 
Fertilize - many gardeners way too much in general but fertilizing this time of year, could encourage the plant to push out growth and leaves if there is an unseasonal temperature spike, which will freeze and cause damage to the plant. Save it for spring when plants are putting on growth.
Prune - except for any damaged limbs or branches

Hear the Interview on the Green Industry Leaders Network Podcast

As a regular podcast guest, Stacey Hirvella is an experienced and knowledgeable horticulturist with tons of great insights. Look for an upcoming #plantchat episode on What to Know About Fall Planting on 9/6/19. You can listen to the our complete interview and helpful information, 24/7 on the Green Industry Leaders Network podcast. You'll be prepared for the upcoming fall planting season and planting like a pro with these great tips.

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Topics: gardening, Landscaping, planting, trees, fall, shrubs

Emerald Ash Borer – Worst Invasive Tree Pest of this Generation?

Posted by Dr. David Coyle on Fri, Feb, 15, 2019 @ 13:02 PM

Despite bone chilling temperatures this winter, courtesy of the Polar Vortex, you would think that would be enough to wipe out one of the most invasive tree pests, the Emerald Ash Borer, a.k.a, EAB. But you'd be wrong. This single insect has been the demise of millions of North American Ash trees and their destructive reign continues. In this guest post, Dr. Dave Coyle, assistant professor at Clemson University, shares his insights on the EAB and how to deal with it. He was also a guest on the Green Industry Leaders Network podcast, Blurring the Tree Lines, discussing tree stress and pests like EAB, in urban, suburban and forest trees.

Where did EAB Come From?

Who would have thought that a little green beetle – not even an inch long – would cause billions of dollars in damage and lead to the death of millions of trees on this continent?  I mean, sure, it was always a possibility, but we’re currently living though one of the worst invasive species issues in our lifetime.

The emerald ash borer, (EAB for short, Fig. 1) was first discovered in 2002, but probably arrived in the late 1990, near Detroit, MI. It is now present in most of eastern North America (current distribution map) from APHIS.  The larvae or young of this beetle, feed on the phloem of ash trees (genus Fraxinus), and their feeding nearly always results in tree death.  Oh, and not just one type of ash tree – all of them: white, green, blue, pumpkin…if it’s a Fraxinusspecies, it’s susceptible to EAB. 

EAB on Corona Tools Blog

Figure 1. EAB adult.  Photo by Matt Bertone, NC State University.

How do I know if my Ash tree has EAB? 

If the tree starts declining, or losing foliage and branches, or has a sudden increase in woodpecker populations, they’re there trying to find and eat the EAB larvae, and often cause “ash blonding” (Fig. 2), your ash tree may have EAB.  

EAB2 on Corona Tools

Figure 2. Ash blonding.  Photo by David Coyle, Clemson University

It’s important to inspect your tree and look for little D-shaped holes (Fig. 3) – this is where the adults leave the tree once they’re fully developed.

EAB3 on Corona Tools

Figure 3. D-shaped holes made when EAB adults leave the tree.  Photo by David Coyle

Can I save my tree if it has EAB? 

Well that depends…if most of the crown still looks healthy, then probably.  There are many chemical treatments that work great to both prevent and treat EAB once a tree is infested.  There are biocontrol agents (other bugs that eat EAB), but these won’t usually save an individual tree – they’re good for keeping overall populations in check, and are most often used in natural areas.  It is important to note that in nearly all situations, treating a tree is cheaper than removing and replacing it.  And, trees provide many benefits.  The National Tree Benefit Calculator is a great resource to see the value of a tree.

The EAB Outlook

It’s difficult to determine exactly how many trees EAB has already killed, but the number is easily in the millions.  And, EAB is already present across much of eastern North America.  Will it get out West?  It’s likely...there’s already a population in Colorado.  Remember, by not moving firewood from place to place we can prevent the spread of EAB – this is one of the main ways invasive insects get transported to new places.  Our friends at have a lot of great resources on this topic.

The recent polar vortex had folks wondering if the cold temperatures might kill all the EAB.  I hate to burst your bubble (but I’m going to burst your bubble…), but the answer is no. Sure, in some places many EAB larvae likely died, but even this recent cold snap isn’t enough to kill all the EAB. Some died, yes – especially in colder areas like the northern U.S. and Canada.  But certainly not all of the EAB died.

Resources About EAB

InsideClemson_PicbyErinMurphyFor the latest resources on EAB, check out, a multi-state and multi-agency collaborative, and the great site by Purdue University. 

About the Author

Dr. Dave Coyle is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation at Clemson University.  He can be found on Twitter @drdavecoyle and Instagram. And listen to Dave's podcast, Blurring the Tree Lines, on the Green Industry Leaders Network.

Topics: #treechat, gardening, trees

What You Should Know About Why Trees Fail

Posted by Chris Sabbarese on Mon, Jul, 21, 2014 @ 15:07 PM

Has a certain tree been worrying you lately? Residential and urban trees provide numerous benefits, bTreeBartlettut sometimes trees decline and fail. As trees age, they become more susceptible to wood decay and other defects. Many old trees gradually fall apart before they decline and die. The first priority for arborists caring for older trees is evaluating their structural integrity and providing necessary remedial treatments to reduce the risk of branch, stem, and root failures. 

Learn how expert arborists evaluate a tree as they decide whether it can be saved or must be removed. Why Trees Fail is this week's #treechat topic! 

You're Invited to Tweet 

Join @CoronaTools along with chat partner and host, Bartlett Tree Experts marketing manager, Tina McNulty @BartlettTreeExp. Joining Tina will be tree expert, E. Thomas Smiley, Ph.D., Plant Physiologist and Soil Scientist.  The live chat begins Tuesday, July 22, 2014 at 11 a.m. PST / 2 p.m. EST.  This is the Twitter chat were we come together with industry experts and fellow tree tweeps each week to discuss all things related to trees and tree care, since 2010!

Discussion Overview

Why Trees Fail – Hear about the external factors (environment, weather, insects) and tree factors (age, species) that can cause a tree to fail.

Visible Signs – Explore some of the visual signs that can help detect when a tree may fail.

Arborist Evaluations –Understand how arborists analyze and diagnose the health of a tree. 

Preventing Tree Fails – Discover what are some of the options arborists consider for trees that could potentially fail.

Determining Unreasonable Risk – Learn what risk factors arborists weigh to determine if a tree should remain or be removed.

Join the Conversation

Corona Tools Treechat

Join us for this information-rich topic live on Twitter! Just sign in, search for #treechat and tweet using the hashtag. You're tweets will appear in the live tweet stream and you will be part of the conversation.  Be sure to add the hastag to all your tweets or join us in the treechat room on Tweetchat.  They will automatically add it for you and it's easy to watch the conversation as it happens!

If you do miss the live chat, you can still access the complete Storify transcript, available 24/7 following the live chat.  It includes include all the information and links shared during the discussion.

About Treechat

Connect and share with the green industry leaders live on Twitter and 24/7 to learn and share about hot topics in the green industry. Now treechat is part of the Green Industry Leaders Network (GILN) presented by Corona and its partners.  We are an alliance of professional organizations who are advancing the horticulture, tree care, and landscaping industries.  Register now to get weekly updates of upcoming chats, links to transcripts, chat reminders and more!  Register now on the GILN website!

Topics: #treechat, Bartlett Tree Experts, trees

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