Four Signs You Are Overwatering

Not all signs of too much water are this easy to spot. Brown tips but leaf is still soft and limp.

Giving your plants too much water is one of the biggest issues I see in landscapes today.  The mistake of overwatering your plants is not easy to diagnose.  In many instances too much water mimics the signs of too little water.  Below are four signs you can easily recognize to determine if you are giving your landscape too much water.

1.     Your plant is wilting but it looks like it has plenty of water

Roots are critical to plant life. They are the primary source for water, food and the intake of oxygen. The roots of the plant take up water but they also need air to breathe. Overwatering, in simple terms, drowns your plant. Oxygen fills the space between the particles of soil.  Soil that is constantly wet won’t have enough air pockets and plants will not be able to breathe by taking up oxygen with their roots.

2.    Leaves turn brown and wilt

Leaves turn brown and wilt when plants have too little and too much water.  The biggest difference is too little water will result in the leaves feeling crispy when you hold them in your hand.  Too much water and the leaves will feel soft and limp in your hand.

3.    Edema

When roots of plants absorb more water than they can use,  water pressure begins to build in the cells of the leaves. The cells will eventually  burst, killing them and forming blisters and these areas will look like lesions. Once the blisters erupt, tan, brown or white warty growths begin to form where the blisters originally were. Plus you will see indentations forming directly above the growths on the top sides of the leaves.

4.    Yellow leaves

Stunted slow growth with yellowing leaves is a symptom of overwatering.  The other sign to observe during this condition is leaf fall.  If you have yellowing leaves and old leaves as well as new leaves are falling at the same accelerated rate you are providing too much water.

Check your soil regularly.  Don’t be afraid to push you finger into the soil and see how moist it is an inch or two down.  If the soil is moist and you have some of the conditions above it’s an excellent sign to reduce your water.  Also, many stores sell inexpensive but accurate moisture meters.  You simply insert them in the root ball and they will tell you how much water is in the soil.  This is a simple and inexpensive tool that will take much of the guess work out of watering your landscape.  I hope these tips are helpful and please share a few of your own in the comments area below.

Written by Richard Restuccia, Valleycrest

James Haley

Cell 480-444-8776
TerraPro, Inc.
4856 E. Baseline Rd. #104
Mesa, AZ 85206
Office 480-355-1393
Fax 480-452-0347

Cool Facts about Grass

Cool facts about grass!

Did you know?

You shouldn’t let your lawn grow too tall before you cut it.
When you cut off more than 1/3 of the length of the grass-blade, it causes the grass to go into shock. Grass gets its food by converting the sun’s energy by photosynthesis. When you chop off more than 1/3 you are cutting the grass’s food supply by how much you cut off. I personally wouldn’t like my food to be cut drastically like that, would you?
Grass shouldn’t be cut too short.
Like I said above, grass gets its food by the sun. When grass is cut too short, it starves the plant. The plant then has to put all of its efforts into growing as fast as it can so it can get its food supply back. The root system gets neglected and the grass shoots up faster than it would if it were cut at a healthy length. When grass is too short, the sun has direct contact with the soil causing it to dry out faster. Do you really like having to water your lawn more often than is needed?
Watering infrequently actually helps your lawn.
When grass is watered for short periods of time the roots don’t have to stretch to get water. Roots like to be lazy when they can. If there getting plenty of water and never have to make an effort, roots will not grow deep down into the soil. There are many benefits of having deeply rooted lawns. When there is a shortage of water, the top soil will start to dry out. If you have deep roots, this wont matter because there is still plenty of moisture deeper into the soil. If you have a healthy root system, your grass will be able to reach that moisture deep under ground and not have the need for additional watering.
Grass does NOT like dull mower blades.
Dull mower blades tear the grass instead of cutting it clean and crisp. When grass is torn, it browns the tip of the grass and its more vulnerable to get infected. Infections can be the culprit of large spots of random brown or yellow grass in the lawn. Dull blades sometimes don’t even cut the grass, but instead rip it straight out of the ground. This has obvious effects to the overall health of your lawn.
Grass cutting are really good for your lawn!
When you leave the grass clippings on your lawn, the clippings decompose back into the soil. This decomposition gives your lawn TONS of nutrients and good food. Its like giving your lawn a super healthy boost every time you cut your grass! Grass roots grow and thrive from this healthy boost and can provide better nutrients to the grass blades.

Water Conservation

Conserving Water Outdoors Pays Off for Homeowners Associations
Saving water outdoors can require planning and some investment in new plants or an updated irrigation system. For HOAs, the payoff from these investments can be great. Many homeowners groups are unaware of optimum watering cycles for their landscape and give plants more water than they need. Significant water savings can be achieved by simply adjusting sprinkler timers to match plant watering needs. Savings can also be achieved by switching some or all of common landscape areas to drought tolerant and other low-water use plants. For many HOAs, landscape irrigation currently accounts for 90 percent or more of all the water used at their properties. Cutting back on irrigation cycles or moving to less water intensive plantings can thus provide an immediate reduction in water consumption and an immediate reduction in water bills.

Other Resources

Water Management: Arizona’s Active Managment Areas
(Arizona Dept of Water Resources – www.azwater.gov)

Pools and Spas: Water Saving Tips and Technologies
(Arizona Dept of Water Resources – www.azwater.gov)

Landscape Water Guide
(Water Use It Wisely – www.wateruseitwisely.com)

Water Conservation Tips for Arizona Residents
(Arizona Dept of Water Resources – www.azwater.gov)

Desert Lawn Care Guide
(Arizona Municipal Water Users Association – www.amwua.org)

How Often and How Long to Water
(Arizona Dept of Water Resources – www.azwater.gov)

Good Reasons to Take Out Your Grass
(Arizona Municipal Water Users Association – www.amwua.org)

Pruning Recommendations

Conservation Technologies for HOA Communities

Landscape Plants for the Arizona Desert
(Arizona Municipal Water Users Association – www.amwua.org)

Michigan State University Turfgrass Science
Resources for lawn care, turf maintentance and more.

Smart Irrigation Month

Complementing Your Smart Irrigation System with Sustainable Solutions

There are plenty of additional considerations you can explore to complement your smart irrigation system and contribute toward a truly sustainable landscape.

Green walls. A vertical, vegetative “living wall,” a green wall can be freestanding or part of a building and can help reduce the overall temperature of the building, improve the aesthetics and can even aid in water reuse, purification and retention.Soil testing. Submit a soil sample to a testing laboratory for an inexpensive report explaining its balance of nutrients, which will assist with selecting the appropriate fertilizer and application rate.

Aerification, amendments and mulch. Implementing a regular aerification schedule and base layer of organic matter or calcined clay products will aid in water and nutrient retention and allow deeper infiltration into the soil profile to promote deeper root growth and help plants resist disease and better withstand drought conditions.

Slow-release fertilizer. The use of coated, slow-release fertilizers, which have lower salt indexes than other quickly-available nitrogen fertilizers, means less watering when compared to their non-coated counterpart products.

Fertilizer injection systems (fertigation). Fertigation, derived from the combination of fertilization and irrigation, allows you to fertilize and irrigate a section of turf in one simple step, making it easier for nutrients to infiltrate plant root zones and eliminating the need for watering above and beyond the irrigation system’s scheduled program run time.

Water Wisely

Today’s irrigation systems include sophisticated controllers that allow you to easily adjust watering schedules to fit different needs.

  • Get in the zone. Schedule each individual zone in your irrigation system to account for type of sprinkler, sun or shade exposure, and soil in that section. Different zones will almost always need different watering schedules.
  • Consider soil type. Type of soil determines how quickly water can be absorbed without runoff. Watering more than soil can absorb causes runoff and waste.
  • Don’t send water down the drain. Set sprinklers to water plants, not your driveway, sidewalk, patio or buildings.
  • Water only when needed. Saturate root zones and let the soil dry. Watering too much and too frequently results in shallow roots, weed growth, disease and fungus.
  • Water at the best time. Watering during the heat of the day may cause losses of up to 30 percent due to evaporation. Prevent water loss by watering when the sun is low or down, winds are calm and temperatures are cool — typically between the evening and early morning.
  • Water more often for shorter periods. For example, setting your system to run for three, 5-minute intervals lets soil absorb more water than watering for 15 minutes at one time, reducing runoff.
  • Adapt watering to the season. Familiarize yourself with the settings on your irrigation controller and adjust the watering schedule regularly based on seasonal weather conditions. Or invest in a smart controller so your system can make these changes automatically.

Smart Irrigation Month is an initiative of the Irrigation Association, a non-profit industry organization dedicated to promoting efficient irrigation. Learn more at www.smartirrigationmonth.org.Provided for the Irrigation Association by Ewing Irrigation Products, Inc.

James Haley

Cell 480-444-8776
TerraPro, Inc.
4856 E. Baseline Rd. #104
Mesa, AZ 85206
Office 480-355-1393
Fax 480-452-0347

CAI Educated Business Partner

Congratulations to James Haley on earning the CAI Educated Business Partner distinction!

Posted on July 1, 2013

Jim ProfileJuly 1, 2013 (Phoenix, AZ) James Haley of Terrapro Landscape Maintenance, a provider of Landscape Maintenance services for association management firms has recently achieved the distinguished ‘Educated Business Partner’ status; awarded through the Business Partner Essentials Program of CAI (Community Associations Institute).

James Haley now joins an elite group of professionals nationwide who have successfully completed the two part Business Partner Essentials course and assessment. This course is designed to promote better understanding of community associations and the many types of businesses serving them. The course material covers a wide range of topics including the history of associations, the bid process, and the ethics of doing business with an association. Those successfully completing the course and examination achieve the recognition of CAI Educated Business Partner.

CAI is an association of 31,000 members specifically created by industry leaders to build better communities. Please visit here to learn more about Business Partner Essentials.

Saving Money with Sustainable Landscape

Saving Money with Sustainable Landscapes

By Michael Chaplinksy, Turf Feeding Systems

Plants need less water than you think when they live in harmony with soil biology.

The segment of the green industry that maintains turfgrass, sports fields and large greenscapes has seen many really significant changes over the past 20 years. Even so, for the most part, we’re doing the same thing, applying chemical fertilizers and overwatering, over and over again, but expecting different results. This is the definition of insanity, according to Albert Einstein.

However, there is a simple, cost-effective method that landscape professionals on the cutting edge are starting to use. It’s called sustainable landscaping, and it doesn’t take a genius to do it.

What is sustainable landscaping? Definitions vary, but in general, it means landscape practices that are in harmony with nature and the local climate, requiring minimal inputs. Sustainable landscape practices can reduce water use by up to 50 percent. They can cut labor costs and the need for chemical fertilizers. The end result is better soils and healthier, more disease-resistant plant material.

Turfgrass managers who have instituted sustainable practices are noting significant results. Focusing on soil and plant health, this method is an efficient management program for any facility or landscape. Maintaining soil nutrition is just as important as any other turfgrass maintenance task, such as mowing or aeration.

The first thing a facility turf manager or maintenance contractor who wants to begin a sustainable landscaping program should do is a bioassay of the soil. This test will evaluate its overall health, its biology and biodiversity. It will also find any pathogens that might be in it. If amendments are needed, they can then be applied by fertigation. This is simply the process of applying quality liquid nutrients through the irrigation system.

But that’s not the goal, that’s just the start. What we’re seeking is a relatively self-sustaining biosphere in the soil that replicates what nature does by itself.

Soil feeds plants. Dying plants feed soil, which in turn feeds plants. This cyclical, symbiotic process has been enacted by nature for millions of years. In jungles, grasslands, forests and other native areas untouched by humans, plants are sustained by this relationship between the soil, the plants and the trees. No one feeds the plants chemical fertilizers out in nature, yet somehow they thrive. Nature does a better job of nourishing plants than we ever could.

Grasses turn over their roots every two to three years, leaving the soil with thousands of pounds of dead roots to decompose. In a soil rich in biodiversity, the dead roots and other organic matter will be converted to organic humus particles. Leaving the roots there to decay naturally, instead of removing them, is like tilling in rich potting soil, only cheaper and more effective.

As soil health improves, it becomes more nutrient-efficient and needs less fertilizer and water. Organic humus particles have great storage capacity. Humus-rich soil becomes a very efficient biological dynamo that will attract, hold and release water and nutrients at a rate ten times higher than clay soil. It increases the efficiency of any mineral or synthetic fertilizers that may then be applied.

This process also frees up nutrients such as phosphorus, iron and boron that are trapped in the soil but unavailable to the plants. They only need to be released so the plants can uptake them.

Roots are where a plant stores water and nutrients. The healthier the soil, the deeper and denser the roots will be. A plant with a good root system is a more efficient plant, one that needs less water— up to 30 percent less in some cases.

The result is higher quality turfgrass.

Plants in soil rich in probiotics will not be stressed by the growth process. They’ll have thicker cell walls and be more disease-resistant, reducing the need for chemicals. Although sustainable practices may not eliminate the need for chemicals entirely, it can reduce their usage to a much lower level, saving money.

Of course, even with sustainable practices, other factors may interfere with soil health. There are many landscapes that have a very high pH, because of bicarbonates in the water or soil. If the pH is too high, nutrients will be unavailable to the grass and will go to waste. Applying sulfur or gypsum as a buffering agent is a simple, low-cost solution to this problem.

Sodium is another concern. Landscapes and sports fields located in coastal areas can suffer a buildup of sodium, especially in clay soils. Too much salt is toxic to plants. Unfortunately, it can’t be flushed by rain and the more it’s irrigated, the more damage is done. Once grass is poisoned with sodium, it’s like irrigating with seawater.

Fortunately, fertigation with organic additives like humic acid and organic enzymes has had great success on many sodium-tainted landscapes. This method should be applied first as a treatment and continued as a maintenance practice.

The overuse of chemicals has made many soils sterile. Beneficial bacteria is killed along with the bad. Some groundskeepers want to keep their soils that way so they don’t have to worry about disease. But when soils are brought back to life and made biologically active, the plants they feed are naturally resistant to disease. If you need evidence of this, take a look at the native areas around your sports field or landscape. Do you see any diseased plants there?

By bringing nature into your management practices, you’re starting up a biological engine that will never stop running. This engine will create stronger, better, more disease-resistant plants and grasses that use water and nutrients more efficiently. Your landscapes and fields will look better, be healthier and cost less to keep that way.

A new market is being created to promote and support sustainable landscapes. Across diverse parts of the country, experienced professionals are leaving the traditional landscape maintenance business and creating a new service industry.

This natural cycle is the agronomic engine that feeds plants all over our planet, and it depends on healthy soil.
The future of agriculture and all areas of agronomy rely on growing and managing healthy plants. Just as physicians promote a healthy, disease-resistant body for their patients, healthy soil is the important foundation for a healthy plant.

James Haley

Cell 480-444-8776
TerraPro, Inc.
4856 E. Baseline Rd. #104
Mesa, AZ 85206
Office 480-355-1393
Fax 480-452-0347

Never Give Up

Never, ever give up
Whatever you do… don’t give up. Don’t give up on your dreams and don’t give up on yourself. If what you do is worth it then you should go after it no matter what, if it’s something you couldn’t get out of your mind no matter how much you tried – go after it. It’s better to fail than wonder “what if” for the rest of your life.

Arizona Cicadas

Insects We See and Hear in the Summer Months
Desert Cicada

These insects are commonly heard in the summer buzzing or singing in trees. Cicadas are 1-1/2 to 2 inches long with thick bodies and bulging eyes. The most common species in lower elevations of Arizona is the Apache cicada, which is dark-colored with a pale tan band just behind the head. The adult males produce the loud, shrill noise to attract females. The male Cicada may be the loudest insect known to man, their shrill can be heard as far away as 400 yards. Cicadas are not harmful to humans in any way. They do not bite or carry diseases. The cicadas spend most of their lives as immature’s, feeding underground on the roots of trees or other perennials. The immature’s move out of the soil during summer evenings, starting in June about Father’s Day. They leave behind holes about one half inch in diameter. They crawl up nearby tree trunks, plants or buildings and cling there. If you watch, eventually the back of the nymph begins to split open and the adult winged cicada emerges. Homeowners often find the leftover skins attached to foundations or trees. Cicada adults live three to four weeks. After mating, the female cuts open twigs with her saw-like egg-laying apparatus, and deposits her eggs in the slits. When the eggs hatch, the nymphs drop to the ground and burrow into the soil in search of food.

The species of cicada found in Arizona finish their life cycles in two or three years. There is one species found east of the Mississippi, however, called the 17-year cicada. The immature’s of this species stay underground, feeding away on tree roots, for 17 years! Then, using some clue that is not yet well understood, all the adults come out at the same time to mate and lay eggs for the next generation

Cicada Ambience on the Peavine Trail: http://youtu.be/ciWORJjayVE via @YouTube

Terrapro June Watering

June is probably the most difficult period for many plants because of the long days, high temperatures, and low humidity. Ineffective water management is the number one cause of death of landscape plants in the Valley, and, believe it or not, it is more frequently from over watering than under watering.

You can reduce your water bill and take better care of your plants it you water slowly (prevents run off), deeply (use a soil probe or a long handled screwdriver to check that the water is penetrating 2-3 ft. deep for trees and shrubs, and 1- 1 1/2 ft. deep for turf & flowers), and infrequently (Let the soil dry between watering).

James Haley

Cell 480-444-8776
TerraPro, Inc.
4856 E. Baseline Rd. #104
Mesa, AZ 85206
Office 480-355-1393
Fax 480-452-0347