May-June 2021

Page 12

Green With Envy? Not Any More! By Jim Harris

This can be the year you stop envying your neighbor’s beautiful yard and create your own. We interviewed local pros to get advice on how to make it happen. Chad Whitten, owner of Whitten Nursery, said to do it right the first time to eliminate costly re-dos. Doing research up front ensures plant choices work in your location’s climate and sun exposure. That research includes evaluating the soil and sun conditions you’ll be planting in and the level of time you’re willing to commit to maintenance. Your plant choices will be very different if you want low maintenance options versus working in your yard daily, he said. Clay soil is also a consideration with most area lawns, so using the proper soil conditioner will improve results. Chad said to pick plants that do well in our climate. Rhododendron and winter Daphne are a couple of examples of beautiful plants that people see elsewhere and love, but they do not usually grow well here, he said. Crimson Fire loropetulum, Kaleidoscope abelia, and Encore azaleas are examples of vibrantly colored plants that thrive here and are low maintenance. Kaleidoscope abelia is deer-proof, and Encore azaleas bloom multiple times each year. Firepower, Blush, Flirt, and Lemon Lime are popular varieties of nandina, another beautiful shrub that is low maintenance and well suited to our area. The team at Whitten will gladly guide you to the best options for your situation. Ron O’Neal, owner of O’Neal Seed Company, suggested that homeowners get a soil test before planting grass to ensure they use what’s best for their lawns. Clemson University offers a service to analyze your soil. You’ll need to take a 6” deep, 1” diameter sample from 8-10 locations in your yard, mix it in a clean bucket and take that sample to your county agent’s office. They will process it and get the results to you in a couple of weeks. The cost is under $10. You’ll then know what is needed to improve your soil’s quality, based on the variety of grass you choose. Bermuda and zoysia are warm-season grasses that work well here, while fescue is an excellent cool-season variety that, once established, will stay green year-round. Once you have your soil analysis, Ron said he will guide you with recommendations for the proper grass varieties and how to plant and nourish your new grass as well as ridding your lawn of unwanted weeds. If you have deep topsoil, you can probably avoid preplanting aeration. If you have mostly clay, you will need aeration to open up the soil, Ron said. He recommended

Ron O’Neal of O’Neal Seed Company double aerating your lawn, saying, “Run the spiker, then put the seed out, then run the spiker again. Seed will fall into the first hole and then you’ll push more seed into the ground.” Denise Blackwell is the owner of McAllister Greenhouses. She suggested accenting your shrub choices with perennials and annuals to add color and variety to your lawn’s aesthetics. She stocks plants well suited to our local climate and soil, including the bolder colors that are very popular today. She advises that watering every other day will help those brighter colors last longer through the summer months. Working with the proper tools is a key to a beautiful lawn and protecting your budget. Joe Whitlow manages Anderson Power Equipment. He told us that the trend today is rechargeable cordless tools. Technological improvements in batteries allow longer use time and savings in fuel and maintenance. Stihl offers a rechargeable line called Combi, a multi-use powerhead with a wide variety of attachments like string trimmers, hedge trimmers, and edgers, so you avoid purchasing all of these tools individually. Stihl also has a new line of smaller handheld tools, like the GTA 26, a miniature cordless chain saw, which is great for smaller jobs. For those of you using gasoline-powered equipment, Joe recommended starting each device monthly, buying fuel in small quantities, and using modern gas cans to keep the fuel supply and systems as clean and fresh as possible, therefore extending the life of the tool. Follow these tips and enjoy your beautiful lawn! 12

May/June 2021