Have a newer tree planted in your lawn? Might want to protect it from winter.

Salt can cause considerable damage to plants as it breaks down in the soil and starts replacing available nutrients with compounds that are toxic to the plant, some plants are more susceptible to its effects than other.

  • If your plants are along a roadway that may get slush spray from salted roads you can help protect them by building a barrier with plastic along the road way.
  • Water the landscaped areas and trees close to walkways, roads or drives deeply before winter sets in. You can also add gypsum to promote leaching in late fall or spring (when the snow thaws).
  • Use salt that does not contain sodium chloride for areas around sensitive plants.

Some common trees in our landscape & lawns that are susceptible to salt damage:

  • American Sycamore
  • Box-Elder
  • Japanese Maple
  • Red Maple
  • Serviceberry
  • Boxwood
  • Birch
  • Redbud
  • Dogwood
  • Beech
  • Crabapple
  • Norway Spruce
  • Norway & Red Pine
  • Eastern White Pine
  • Scotch Pine
  • Douglas Fir
  • Many species of Oaks
  • Lilac
  • Yews
  • Arborvitae

Wrapping the trunk of a tree with tree wrap or a light colored wrap will help reflect the suns rays to help prevent activated growth during the winter months.

Heavy cold winds can cause evergreen plants to lose moisture through their needles and dehydrate them. The needles will become brown (though that is not an indication that the whole branch is dead) and unsightly. Help protect your conifers by watering deeply before winter sets in and setting up a burlap barrier on the unprotected side of the tree.

mulch-trunkMulch newer trees to help the soil cool down slower and retain moisture. Never pile mulch directly against the trunk of the tree – it should have a ‘volcano’ appearance (as if the trunk of the tree is the lava shooting out).

For more information, check out:


What’s your soil?

Whether you are an avid gardener, in the industry or you are just looking for more detailed information about your lawn, understanding your soil profile is important.  Some plants perform better in clay while others are happier in sand – this is a subject we will get more in depth with in a later blog post.

The Web Soil Survey website is a great resource when trying to find general information about an areas soil type, it is maintained by the USDA and offers up lots of great tools that a free to use. I’ll walk you through a very quick tutorial about how to utilize this site. You may find it here: http://websoilsurvey.sc.egov.usda.gov/App/WebSoilSurvey.aspx

web soil survey screen shot
web soil survey screen shot

On the left you will see an option for “Quick Navigation/Address”.  Type in the area of the soil you wish to look up. Keep in mind, your area of interest has to be relatively small plots, you can’t pull a whole county. We put our shop address in.


web soil survey screen shot
web soil survey screen shot

There is a tool that allows us to draw which area of our visual we wish to survey (AOI, we selected the rectangle tool).


web soil survey screen shot
web soil survey screen shot

And here’s our plot. The green rectangle and diagonal lines indication our Area Of Interest (AOI).


web soil survey screen shot
web soil survey screen shot

Next, click “Shopping Cart (Free)” near the top and “Check Out”.  A .pdf report will be generated for download and it contains useful information that will be helpful in determining the soil profile of the AOI. (my browser actually blocks the pop up for this download, if nothing happens after clicking “Check Out”, look into your pop-up blocker).


web soil survey screen shot
web soil survey screen shot
web soil survey screen shot
web soil survey screen shot


Spotting spiders moving about


I spotted a spider in the basement last night and it reminded me that spring is just around the corner, they must be getting as anxious for this winter weather to taper off as I am! For many years I have had a [very unfounded] fear of spiders, my fear has not been ‘cured’ by any stretch of the imagination, though I am getting better about tolerating some of them – not all of them, but SOME of them.

With that being said, this article is about spiders and how to get rid of them. It’s important to note that they can live up to several months without a food source and some spiders have a lifespan of 20 years! In Ohio, our indoor spiders may live up to two+ years and it should be noted that we are fairly lucky in the lack of poisonous spiders. Black widows are found in Northwest Ohio & Southeast Michigan, they tend to build their webs and homes in debris, wood piles or other safe places that are seldom disturbed. The reason I point this particular spider out is that she is the most likely poisonous spider that may be encountered in our service area. When working outside or in storage areas, wear gloves to help protect your hands as you move things around.

Yellow Sac Spider
yellow sac spider

Another common culprit in NW Ohio / SE Michigan that may cause [sometimes serious] reactions from bites are yellow sac spiders (pictured above). These little guys are often found on flat surfaces and build ‘sac’ webs to hide out in. I have seen many of them in my house and they do have a heck of a bite that will leave behind a small (pin prick) lesion that will scab over. It may be painful and itchy – in most cases their bite does not need medical attention. They are nocturnal, aggressive and may bite multiple times.

How to reduce the number of spiders in your home:

  • You may opt to simply whack them with a shoe or rolled up paper.
  • Some sites recommend vacuuming them up, although this will work, it is important to note that they usually have a relatively long life span and can go some time without food, meaning they may escape the vacuum and return to your living areas. If you do vacuum them up, discard of the bag shortly after (if you have a bagless vacuum, make sure to wear gloves while empting the container. Take the debris to your garbage can immediately).
  • Dish soap mixed with water and sprayed directly on the insect or in areas they frequent (leaving a residue) will help to break up their exoskeleton and dehydrate them to death. As a mother with young children, I have used this method many times with good results.
  • Glue traps: these are sticky, flat surfaces that you can place about your home to help trap spiders and other insects. Place them in areas that are not often disturbed as this will be the common route most bugs will take.
  • Destroying webs: this will deter spiders from continuously making their homes in some places.
  • I have read, though have not tried, spraying white vinegar mixed with water will immediately kill spiders and other insects. Will try this soon and update.
  • Insecticides: There are many on the market and a variety of active ingredients. We use a product with an active ingredient of Bifenthrin that has a relatively good residual. This product is labeled for both exterior and interior structures as well as lawn & ornamental. If spiders have become more than just a nuisance we do offer a bug shield to apply on the exterior or in your lawn.

Protecting your flower beds & plants from the upcoming snow


I had the opportunity to talk to Mr. Jack Carls of Daystar about landscaped plants and the coming snow; and what we, as homeowners, can do to protect our flower beds and prevent any damage to the landscaped areas of our lawn. Here’s what he shared with us:

How can I protect my landscaped beds that run along the driveway from snow, salt and/or plows? Do you offer a service for this?
Protecting landscape beds that run along driveway… Install a burlap wall along the plants. Do not pile snow on the plants, either blow the snow over the top or have snow pulled/pushed to street and piled in front yard. Yes, we offer this service.

How can I keep deer from eating my plants this winter? Do you offer a service for this?
How to keep deer from eating your plants…. We can apply a deer repellent that will keep them away. Yes, we can help keep deer away from your landscaped areas and trees.

Is there a way to avoid a slushy mess from salt melting ice and snow?
Remove all snow before applying ice melting agents.

Do you have any tips to help protect plants before winter comes into full force? Do you offer a service for this?
Protecting your plants from winter….. Burlap fencing, mulch leaves and place around plants instead of taking to curb or mulch before snow arrives to create a blanket for the plants. Also spray with dormant oil to protect. Yes, we offer these services.

If you have questions for Jack and Daystar, here’s their contact info:

DayStar, LLP.

P.O. Box 1192
Holland, OH 43528

How good or bad will this winter be for snow?

I was chatting is up with a local landscaper that we’ve worked with today, Mike Ashenfelter of S & M Triangle Services, about the potential of snow for this season. He referred to the last two seasons as ‘duds’ that really took a hit on his snow removal services (we did not have much accumulated snow in recent years in the Toledo, OH area), and he believes we are in for another ‘dud’ of a year for snow removal services. I, on the other hand, tend to be more optimistic for him; we will get LOTS of snow this year.

What do you think?

As far as our business goes, we shut down production for the winter and revamp our strategies, market and do paper work, paper work and more paper work! I’m looking forward to a little bit of snow this season so we can go sledding – but not too much snow that we can’t leave the house…