Landscaping During Changing Weather

Late Winter Lawn Care

Yards are trying to turn green, trees are budding and if your yard is like Erin’s, daffodils are coming up confusingly early. Our warmer weather is challenging the plants around the yard. Our best advice is to water the trees but let the lawns stay dormant until things warm up a little more.

Here’s a link to the original piece by KTVN:

Weed Control in Spring Time

Now is the time!

Here’s the skinny…while we’re not calling an end to winter – the weed seeds on your property are saying it right now. The weather is unusually warm and this means all of us in the Truckee Meadows need to step up our weed control programs considerably.

quotess2Beautiful landscapes begin by eliminating weeds before germination

Lawn maintenance requires attentive weed control.

The most effective way to control weeds is to apply pre-emergent herbicide early in the year to prevent unwanted growth from appearing. Call our helpful weed-pros to schedule your treatments this week – before the seeds on your property germinate.

EARLY BIRD SPECIAL Professional Pre-emergent Application + Turf Aeration Service – Save 10% on any service this month up to 3,000 square feet!

Call Julie to schedule a free weed control consultation (775) 827-LAWN (5296)

  • Weeds hurt the healthy and vibrant plants in the landscape stealing water, nutrients and light.
  • Many people are allergic to weeds and can suffer skin reactions or breathing difficulties.
  • They’re unattractive additions to any property and can cost thousands of dollars to eliminate if left untreated.
  • The aesthetic factor: weeds hurt the look of a landscape.

Timing Weed Control

Pre-emergent herbicides only work if they are applied to your lawn before the weed’s growth period. Weeds are persistent and crafty, and managing them really is a matter of outwitting, outplaying them, and outlasting them. They come back every season, twice a year. According to garden experts across the U.S., pre-emergent fertilizers should be applied so that they activate before seasonal weeds make an appearance.

Winter Drought Tree Watering

Supplemental Tree Watering

Winter watering is essential to maintain healthy trees in Northern Nevada and California. Your trees and shrubs need a good drink this winter! 

Signature Landscapes offers a Deep Root Watering service that ensures moisture is placed in and around the critical root system.

Let us help you water your trees & shrubs: Contact our Tree Care team at (775) 857-4333

Why water trees in the winter?

driplinegraphic-LargeWe’ll often find ourselves experiencing periods of little or no precipitation during winter months. The impact of this to newly planted trees, trees in construction areas, and trees already under stress from previous storm or insect damage can be overwhelming. This will often result in tree death. With the cost of removing and planting trees rising every day, it becomes increasingly important to properly care for the trees that are already in your landscape.

On average, it takes up to 12″ of snow to equal just 1″ of actual moisture.

Businesses, property managers and homeowners should evaluate their ability to water their trees, shrubs and turf areas, and don’t be fooled when it snows. Dry winter conditions result in serious damage to newly planted landscapes as well as mature and established trees. Damage to vegetation includes, but is not limited to:

  • Desiccation and dieback to fibrous (nutrient absorbing) root tissue
  • Undersized leaves in the spring
  • Needle browning and premature needle drop in evergreen trees
  • Increased susceptibility to insect attack

Download PDF – Managing Drought Guideook

Inadequate water (drought stress) is probably the most significant cause of plant problems in the Truckee Meadows. Due to the semi-arid conditions in which we live, irrigation systems, designed to satisfy the watering needs of our lawn, do not water deeply enough to accommodate the needs of our trees. Trees require deeper, longer, less frequent watering.

Rule of thumb: Water all established trees and shrubs deeply every four weeks when conditions are dry and mild. This is especially true in the fall and winter. Use of a soil probe or soaker hose is a good way to deeply water your trees. A sprinkler can also be used if allowed to run long enough to thoroughly moisten the top 12 inches.

To test if your trees need water, dig down two inches deep and form a ball in your hand. If the soil remains clumped together, your tree does not need water, otherwise water deeply.

Turf & trees have different water needs

Trees and turf often share space in home landscapes, but they have different water needs. Understanding this can help conserve water and save money.

A tree is a thirty-year investment that can easily add up to $5,000 to a property’s value!

Tree suffering from overwatering

Tree suffering from overwatering

Bluegrass turf requires about 1inch of moisture per week during the spring and fall and about 1 1/2 inches in summer, depending on temperatures and winds.

Water should be applied once or twice a week on heavier soils in spring and fall, and potentially two to three times during the heat of the summer. For lighter, sandy soils watering may be needed more often.

This frequent irrigation is good for the turf, but not so for the trees that live within the turf.

This frequent, shallow watering encourages trees living within the turfgrass to develop shallow roots. When periods of drought occur, these trees do not have a deep root system that would allow them to pull water from deeper in the soil profile and that’s when we see them become drought stressed.

One other problem that trees encounter while living in the over-irrigated turfgrass environment is that daily watering of turf also prevents the soil from drying out, this also is harmful to trees.

Tree roots need oxygen to develop correctly. Soil that is constantly saturated with water will prevent oxygen from being present in the soil. This will prevent proper root growth and this will lead to drought like symptoms.

Furthermore, trees planted in irrigated turf must try to compete with turf to capture moisture and nutrients within that top 12 inches of soil. Inevitably the turf will win every time.

Homeowners will find it more practical to meet the differing needs of trees and turf if they group trees within large mulched beds. Trees would prefer to be watered deeply and less frequently than lawns. They should be given 1 to 2 inches per application.

Healthy grouping of trees on a separate drip line

Healthy grouping of trees on a separate drip line

We encourage watering trees deeply and infrequently to encourage them to develop a deeper rooting system, which makes them structurally stronger and more resilient to years of drought because they can capture water deeper in the soil profile.

A typical tree has most of its water-absorbing roots in the top 12 to 24 inches of soil. Those roots also expand out more than one and a half times further than the drip line of the tree. These massive root systems allow trees to draw moisture from a larger area.

The objective to watering trees should be to irrigate to the depth of the root zone and provide adequate water to the area under the drip line and beyond.

Trees would prefer to receive moisture every seven to 10 days, possibly even 14 days, depending on species. The best way to know if a tree needs to be watered is to insert a soil probe or a 12-inch-long flat-head screwdriver into the ground. If it goes in easily there is no need to water; if it is difficult to insert into the ground, it is time to apply some moisture.

It’s also important not to apply too much water or fertilizer around the trees near the end of the growing season, prior to first frost. That would stimulate tender new growth that could be damaged by the freeze. However, after the leaves have dropped, if winter is dry, water should be added once a month.

Other factors to consider when trying to figure out a watering routine and amount to apply are:

  • Soil: Heavy soils require more water less often. Sandy soils require more applications, but in smaller amounts
  • Location in the landscape: Trees placed on south and west sides of buildings and homes require more frequent watering than trees on the north and east
  • Time of year: Trees need to be irrigated less often in the spring and fall, because temperatures are lower and less evaporation is occurring
  • Species of tree: Some trees species require more water than others

Knowing trees’ water requirements is more than a good way to conserve water; during a drought, it might be the key to saving valuable trees. If water restrictions are enacted, homeowners should give trees higher priority than turf.


Special thanks to Amy Seiler and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for information on this article.

Pre-season garden work that pays off

‘Dirt’ ~ ‘Soil’ ~ ‘Mother Earth’ ~ Whatever you call it, some of us like to dig in with our own hands and others would rather have someone else do the digging. Either way, if you want a great garden this year, it’s best to get the soil in order before someone starts digging.

February is an ideal time to apply compost, regardless of the weather. That means you can even toss it on top of the snow!

  • Need help getting compost into your garden? Signature Landscapes’ lawn and garden pros can can help you identify the right mix of compost and soil to help your garden grow.

Why compost?
Compost on its own is low in nutrient value. It’s not valuable for what it is, so much as what it does – and the doing takes time. Even if you are not able to till compost into the soil when you apply it, an early application gives the compost adequate time to do its work.

Why winter composting is good
Compost needs time to mellow or break down and that’s why a winter-time application is beneficial, even if it is not tilled into the soil. Compost creates a homogeneous soil mixture ripe with microbial activity. This process does not add many nutrients to the soil, but improves the soil’s capacity to hold onto both nutrients and water. It improves the root zone. That is why compost is so good for the garden and of course, the plants grown there.

How to shop for compost
Shop for compost that is well-aged and low in salt. Also, look for varieties that have little or no fillers. Compost by nature is all organic, so composts that are labeled “mixes” that contain sand or other inorganic fillers are generally less than optimal.

How much should I buy?
Applying 1 cubic yard of compost per 100 square feet of garden is the rule of thumb. However, if your soil has been well amended in the past, you can use less. The best value is in bulk purchases, so if you have 100 square feet of garden or more, a pick-up load might be the most cost effective. Most pick-ups hold 1 ½ to 2 cubic yards. If you order bulk delivery from a supplier, the minimum order is usually 5 or more cubic yards.

Reminder: Compost is about more than growing good veggies. It’s a key ingredient when establishing a healthy, low-water lawn and for all the other plants in your landscape.




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