NEWS FROM SOIL SERVICE- Lawn Programs, Dormant Seeding, Magnolia/Tulip Scale, Nursery News and more!
Natural bird food supplies start to run out in late winter, which is why February is National Bird Feeding Month. For a minimal investment you’d be amazed at how entertaining it is to watch them at the feeder. Parents with younger kids will have an especially wonderful entertaining and learning experience observing up close bird behavior!
One of our bird loving employees has a feeder that absolutely prevents squirrels from getting to the seed; The SQUIRREL BUSTER. He has had it for OVER 25 years and swears it still looks and works as good as new. When a squirrel jumps on the feeder, its weight closes the seed opening. It doesn’t take long for it to give up in frustration and find something else annoying to do. When it jumps off, the feeder springs back open. BUT YOUR SEED IS SAFE! We have two sizes for larger seed (standard and mini feeders) and one for finch seed.We’ll say up front they aren’t the least expensive feeders on the market, but they’re built tough and powder coat ed for many, many years of happy birds and unhappy squirrels! If you want to make it even simpler, just hang the feeder on a shepherd’s hook. You can also hook a suet cage to it and be doubly entertained by woodpeckers, flickers and nuthatches. Come by the Garden Center soon to get started with some of the best winter entertainment in Kansas City!
Your Soil Service Garden Center has offered lawn care programs since 1991! Beware that many nationally advertised programs don’t really fit, in turf speak, our transition zone (google turfgrass transition zone map). National programs focus on the northeast US which is the largest market but also a very different climate from KC.
Being locally owned, we offer do-it-yourself programs and products that we know work best for our Kansas City lawns. You’ll be surprised how little time it takes to apply them, and the personal satisfaction with substantial cost savings are highly rewarding. When you’re on the program, we’ll even warehouse the products and call you when it’s time for your next application. The first application starts soon so please come in to sign up and get going on a beautiful, healthy lawn. PLEASE NOTE- Now that the Japanese Beetle is in KC, we urge you to seriously consider a preventative lawn treatment in late June to get the upper hand on the grubs that are quite destructive to both bluegrass and fescue lawns. To see our lawn care programs.
Customers who have been on our program for several years may need to only spot spray for particularly troublesome broadleaf weeds that granules do not control. Examples are wild
violets, ground ivy and clover. If you just need to spot spray or simply want to use less overall weed control material, we will work with you to exchange the granules in the lawn program for a liquid spot treatment product at a Lawn Care Program Member discount.
Landscaped areas around our homes do change over time and perhaps you feel it’s time to renovate older areas or create new landscaping. If so, we have landscaping designers and crews who would love to work .
The last thing you want is your mower to die in mid-season and it isn’t too late to get your mower ready for spring. The most important things to do are clean or replace the air filter, change the oil if it’s a 4-cycle engine, and sharpen the blade. If you don’t sharpen it yourself, we highly recommend having 2 blades. That way, if one gets dull, you can swap them out and not worry about how soon the blade you take in will be sharpened (which could be weeks in spring).
February is the best month to seed if you need to touch up small areas this spring-
is the process of putting down grass seed when soil temperatures are consistently below 40 d F, normally in February. This practice applies to bluegrass and fescue blends or mixes such as Soil Service Garden Centers’ KC Marathon or KC Endurance. Unlike these cool season grasses, zoysia, bermuda and buffalo grass are seeded in late May/early June.
The idea is that seed falls into soil cracks created by normal winter freeze/thaw cycles and is then lightly covered when soil thaws. You can seed over light snow or use a Garden Weasel to rough up the ground and lightly incorporate the seed for best seed/soil contact. Since the soil is cold, the seed lies “dormant” until soil temperatures favor early spring germination. Furthermore, temperature fluctuations help crack the hard seed hull which gives grass a head start on germination and root growth- important for grass to survive summer heat stress. Dormant seeding can be successful, but it isn’t without risk. For this reason, this practice is usually limited to smaller areas or when laying sod is impractical.
Fertilizing with Ferti-lome New Lawn Starter can be made at the first sign of germination, and then a follow up fertilization in April- early May should be made with a slow release nitrogen such as Milorganite, available at Soil Service Garden Center.
Dormant Seeding may conflict with spring weed control and careful attention should be paid to all grassy and broadleaf weed herbicide labels regarding timing restrictions. Soil Service Garden Center can provide you the best weed control products for your situation.
Grass seed mulch materials reduce soil moisture losses to increase germination. But slopes present a problem when heavy rain washes away seed. SEED AIDE solves both of these issues. SEED AIDE has been used for decades in the professional turf grass industry and is unique because it has a “tackifier” that helps hold seed and mulch in place. Best of all, the cost per 1000 sq. ft. is the same as other seed mulches. It’s a win/win for you and your lawn!
Magnolia and Tulip tree scale insects can be a major problem for these trees in Kansas City. These pests won’t go away on their own and in large numbers can cause serious
damage. Plus, controlling them is a bit tricky
Our local non-profit, Spay & Neuter is very busy now and using straw to keep dogs and cats warm. They have an account with us to buy straw bales that are ONLY $10. So if you have a minute please drop in or call the Garden Center to make a donation to them. Or call them directly 816-353-0940 to donate. Your support makes a big difference!
WATERING EVERGREENS (AND OTHER SHRUBS) IN WINTER: Winter is one of the most important times of the year to water shrubs in general, and especially evergreens. A common mistake is assuming a light snow or rain is enough for plant roots to survive the winter. But shrubs planted the previous fall, and particularly evergreens, even established ones, may need to be watered to prevent winter desiccation, a frequent cause of plant death. Evergreens may not show stress for several months after drying out, but oftentimes their death is due to lack of water in winter. Pay particular attention to all shrubs underneath house overhangs where normal rainfall doesn’t reach them.
You want to water on a warm day when the ground isn’t frozen. You can either bring out the hose or simply fill a bucket with water to slowly pour around the plant (carefully in pots without drainage holes). GARDENING NOTES: Kansas City freeze and thaw cycles (which is why we have all the potholes) causes frost heaving in plants, leading to dried out roots. Simply push plants gently back into soil on warmer days. Cover a little bit with mulch if needed and pay special attention to plants that were put in last fall. Some of the plants most prone to heaving are Lariope, Heuchera (coral bells), Bergenia, Daisies, Scabiosa, Hens & Chicks, and Strawberries.
We may see Hellebore and Witchazel bloom near the end of this month. Other shrubs that hold color thru winter include Nandina, Pyracantha, Red & Yellow Twig Dogwoods, Winterberries and Hollies. So if you have a space that bores you when you look out the window in winter, please see Soil Service Nursery now to plan for a better winter view next year.
Whether you’re starting a new project or adding to an existing garden, we can help you with your native plants that help pollinators and wildlife. There are many beautiful native plants that are compact and easily fit into your formal or city garden. We keep a tried and true steady mix of true native and some fun and unique native choices. Come see us at the nursery to see what works best for you!
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