Friday, October 30, 2015

Meet the Corpse Plant: Smelliest Plant Ever!

One of the world’s largest and rarest flowering structures, the corpse flower is a pungent plant that blooms rarely and only for a short time. While it is in bloom, the flower emits a strong odor similar to rotting meat or, aptly, a decaying corpse.
There is a good reason for the plant's strong odor. “It all comes down to science," said Tim Pollak, outdoor floriculturist at the Chicago Botanic Garden. "The smell, color and even temperature of corpse flowers are meant to attract pollinators and help ensure the continuation of the species.”
Pollak explained that dung beetles, flesh flies and other carnivorous insects are the primary pollinators of this type of flower. These insects typically eat dead flesh. The smell and the dark burgundy color of the corpse flower are meant to imitate a dead animal to attract these insects.
“Corpse flowers are also able to warm up to 98 degrees Fahrenheit (36.7 Celsius) to further fool the insects,” Pollak told Live Science. "The insects think the flower may be food, fly inside, realize there is nothing to eat, and fly off with pollen on their legs. This process ensures the ongoing pollination of the species. Once the flower has bloomed and pollination is complete, the flower collapses."


Thursday, October 29, 2015

Prevent Moss From Growing On Your Roof!

What is Moss?

Moss is a plant species that grows really well in moist cool areas. There are many different species of moss. Some common characteristics among these species are that moss does not have flowers or seeds, they must have a damp environment to grow in because they do not have any root system to secure water, and they are usually extremely green with tiny leafs.

Why is Moss on The Roof Bad?

As the moss thickens and grows on an asphalt shingle roof it can raise the shingles up (much like a jack under a car). When the shingles get risen it allows water to go under the shingles causing the decking to rot and causing the roof to leak. The raised shingles also pose problems when heavy winds are present because they will catch the wind like a sail and this can cause shingles to be torn/blown off the roof.

A moss buildup on the roof causes more debris to get trapped on the roof. This debris promotes water buildup which makes the roof at risk of much more rotting and leaking.
Moss can actually damage the asphalt shingle components leaving it to break down faster.

How to Prevent Moss

Remove the Shade

Because moss grows well in shaded areas one way to control moss/remove it from roofs or other areas is to remove its shade. This can be done by removing trees, trimming tree branches to allow more sun to penetrate, or remove bushes and other type of plant life that may be blocking the sun.

This method of moss prevention and removal is highly effective but remember that it may be ineffective if the weather is often overcast and cloudy.

How NOT to Get Rid of Moss

Roofs are an investment that must be safe guarded. That being said, we want to give you some “what not to do” tips when trying to remove moss off of your roof.

1. Do not pressure wash the moss off

By using a pressure washer to remove the moss you are going to dramatically reduce the life of your roof. How? The high powered water will remove the asphalt shingle granules which help protect the shingles and ensure a longer life span.

2. Be careful with using acids to remove moss. 

If your acidic mixture is too strong or stays on the roof too long, it can eat away at the shingles. If your roof cleaning solution has not been tested previously, make sure you test it on some spare shingles before applying it to your roof.

3. Do not scrape the moss off of the roof. 

This can rip, crack, and break the asphalt shingles themselves.

4. If any water is used to remove the moss, do not spray the water at an upward angle. 

If you do, this can cause water to go under the shingles and leak into the house or rot the wood decking of the roof.


Monday, October 26, 2015

Top 5 Must Do's Before Winter

With a little preventative maintenance in the fall your lawn and property will be in great shape in the spring. Here is a list of things you can do to make your life easier when things begin to get green again.

  1. The biggest chore in late autumn is getting the lawn ready for the winter season. You should mow your lawn right up to the time it quits growing in the late fall. The grass should be cut to a level of two inches at last cutting. A good sign it has quit growing is the absence of lawn clippings when you run the mower. If it is higher than two inches, winter winds and wet weather will flatten the grass, bending it over and causing it to retain moisture, which can lead to bacterial growth and mold, damaging the roots. If the grass is too short, the lawn will suffer from drying winter winds, and can be damaged by the sun. Always remove any leaves and debris from the lawn. Leaves left lying on your lawn all winter long can prevent water from reaching the grass, or will trap too much moisture. This causes the grass to rot and die before spring. 
  2. Now is the time to fertilize the lawn. Look for fertilizers high in nitrogen. You may also consider a fertilizer that is lower in nitrogen, but higher in phosphorus and potassium. By fertilizing in late fall, you will encourage lush growth in the spring. 
  3. Clean up the lawn mower. Wash and dry it, removing caked on dirt, lawn clippings, and grease. Remove any caked on grass from the mower deck, and inspect the blade for damage. Determine if it should be sharpened or replaced before spring. Putting you mower up on blocks during winter months is a good idea, also. It prevents flat spots from wearing in the rubber. 
  4. Be careful in pruning trees late in the year. Many ornamental trees such as azalea, dogwood, forsythia, redbud and rhododendron set their buds for blooms in the late fall, and pruning them can destroy next season's blooms. Do remove any obviously dead branches.
  5. Thoroughly drain all water hoses, coil them, and store in a dry area. if using a hose reel, insure that all water is drained from the hose to prevent freezing and cracking during cold weather.  
    Drain all faucets and valves, and turn off the water supply to them from the basement if you can. Turn over empty outside containers to prevent water collection and freezing, and store all birdbaths for the winter. 


Saturday, October 24, 2015

Winterizing Trees & Shrubs

Most shrubs and trees require no special preparation for winter, aside from making sure they are watered and old flower heads are removed.

Trees with smooth bark will benefit from tree wrap. Starting at the base of the tree, wrap the trunk to the lowest branch, overlapping each layer by 1/3. Secure at the top with duct tape or twine. Remove the tree wrap by the end of April.

Broadleaf evergreens, such as Holly and Rhododendron, can be sprayed with Wilt Pruf to prevent dissecation. Apply late in the season while temperatures are still above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. You can reapply mid-winter if there is a brief warm spell. Wilt Pruf can also by sprayed on any plant, with or without leaves, that is in a very windy location. Use with caution on plants with very fine needles (Hemlock, Arborvitae, Juniper); follow the product’s instructions on the label.

Plants sensitive to wind or sunburn can also be wrapped with burlap. Wrap in late fall and secure with twine or staples. Burlap can also be used to protect plants from deer and rabbits.

A-frame shrub protectors can be placed over plants that are under the drip line of your roof to protect them from snow or ice damage. They will also provide some protection from wind and sun.

Spray-on deer and rabbit repellants can be applied mid- to late fall. Follow the product’s instructions on the label for effective coverage.

A small group of shrubs require special winter care: Buddleia (Butterfly Bush), Caryopteris, Vitex (Chaste Tree), Scotch Broom, Big Leaf Hydrangeas (pink or blue flowering varieties). After the leaves have fallen from these plants, apply 12–18” at this time. Caryopteris, Scotch Broom and Hydrangeas can be cut back to green growth in the spring. The mulch should be removed in spring as the temperature warms.

The following plants are slow to start growing in the spring, so a little patience is required: Butterfly Bush, Caryopteris, Chaste Tree, Ornamental Grasses, Hardy Hibiscus.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Barberry Banned in NY State - Get Yours Now!

As of March 10, 2015 Barberry is on the list of invasive species in NY State. That means this season is the last chance to add some beautiful barberry to your landscape. 

Barberry is great because it's deer and rabbit resistant on account of its thorny exterior! Barberry does not play well with others and has a tendency to overpower other plants because of the chemical it emits. That being said, it's best to not try to place other plants near it. 

More about Barberry 

Growing barberry bushes is easy and many city dwellers choose this shrub type due to its ability to tolerate urban conditions much better than other varieties of landscape shrubs. They can even be grown in containers.

Barberries like full sun or partial shade and are very adaptable to a wide range of soil types as long as it drains well. Transplant barberries just after flowering or in late winter.
Barberry Shrub Care

When it comes to barberry shrub care, you’ll find that it’s pretty minimal. In fact, pruning barberry plants may be the most work performed with this shrub.

If you are keeping your barberry shrubs as a hedge, it is necessary to prune a couple of times a year. Pruning barberry plants increase shrub health and vigor. Prune for shape during the winter or fall after the plant has fruited. Remove dead wood during the summer and winter months.

A 3-inch layer of mulch helps with moisture retention.

Fertilizing barberry shrubs is generally not necessary.