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The Importance of Understanding Your Watershed Return of a Scale Trees Need TLC


May /June 2018 5

President’s Message


Plant of the Month—'Blue Chip'


2017 Grand Award—A Bethesda Escape

10 The Importance of Understanding Your Watershed 12 Return of a Scale 14 Trees Need TLC 20 Excellence in Landscape Awards—Some Things to Consider 22 Advertising Information

LCA MAY MEETING Wednesday, May 30, 2018 5:30 pm–8:00 pm Sponsored by: McHale Landscape Design, Inc. More information on page 16 On the cover

A Bethesda Escape

Plant of the Month

Fine Earth Landscape, Inc. Outdoor Living Area

—GRAND AWARD— 'Blue Chip' “Feature” and “Plant of the Month” articles can also be found online for LCA Members under the GROUNDWORK link in your Profile Home page at



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2018 BOARD OF DIRECTORS Josh Kane, CLT—President Kane Landscapes, Inc.—(703) 803-3146 Kevin O’Neill—Immediate Past President Great American Landscapes, Inc.—(301) 972-5681 Aaron Raines—Vice President Live Green Landscape Associates, LLC —(410) 833-9640

MAY 15


Matt Glover, CLT—Secretary/Treasurer Wray Brothers Landscapes—(301) 654-5845

LCA 2018 Excellence in Landscape Awards: Submission Site Opens Submission Form New Trends in High-End Residential Landscape Architecture, Sponsored by McHale Landscape Design, Frank Mariani Presenting

DIRECTORS McHale Landscape Design, Upper Marlboro, MD


Certification Classroom Training

Agricultural History Farm Park, Derwood, MD


Certification Hands-on Training

Agricultural History Farm Park, Derwood, MD


Certification Written Test

Johns Hopkins University, Montgomery County Campus, Rockville, MD


Certification Field Test


LCA 2018 Excellence in Landscape Awards: Entry Submission Deadline

Agricultural History Farm Park, Derwood, MD


Ruppert Landscape Sponsored Meeting

Ruppert Landscape, Laytonsville, MD


LCA Mini-Workshop: 10 x 10 Designs

Johns Hopkins University, Montgomery County Campus, Rockville, MD


Certification 2018

Landscape Industry Certified Technician—Exterior Training Sessions 1 and 2

Written Test

Field Test

Paul Jester J&G Landscape Design, Inc.—(301) 476-7600 Colin Jones Manor View Farm, Inc.—(410) 771-4700 Michael J. McCartin Joseph W. McCartin Insurance, Inc.—(301) 937-0400 Kevin McHale McHale Landscape Design, Inc.—(301) 599-8300 Barry Schneider Surrounds, Inc.—(703) 430-6001 Jeff Topley BrightView—(301) 252-8035 Chris Vedrani, CLT Planted Earth Landscaping, Inc.—(410) 857-4744 Jeff Waters SiteOne Landscape Supply—(301) 421-1220

LCA STAFF Thérèse O. Clemens, CAE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Lynn Turner SENIOR MEMBER SERVICES MANAGER / OPERATIONS Julie Hill MARKETING DIRECTOR Dawn Rosenfeld ACCOUNTANT Lynne Agoston DIRECTOR OF EDITORIAL SERVICES Jennifer Oliveres PRODUCTION MANAGER Kristen Jones, CMP MEETING PLANNER Barbara Bienkowski, CEM EXHIBITS/SPONSORSHIP MANAGER Brandon Lawrence EXHIBIT COORDINATOR Jeyin Lee MARKETING COORDINATOR G R O U N D W O R K , the official publication of the Landscape Contractors Association, MD•DC•VA, is published bimonthly by LCA, 9707 Key West Avenue, Suite 100, Rockville, MD 20850. P: (301) 948-0810 F: (301) 990-9771 E: W: Office hours: Monday–Friday, 8:30 am–5 pm (EST). LCA is not responsible for opinions expressed and facts presented by contributing authors. Editorial Deadline: The deadline to submit copy is the first of the month for the following bimonthly issue and is on a space­­­– available basis. Advertising & Classifieds: All ads must be high-resolution PDF and pre‑paid. Contact Barbara Bienkowski at for more information and the deadline schedule. Copyright © 2018: Landscape Contractors Association, MD•DC•VA. Reproduction of any material allowed only with prior written permission from LCA. LCA’s core purpose is to advance the success of its members and provide a community for green industry professionals.



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President’s Message Correction—Spring Is Finally Here! (and Summer Is Right on Its Heels) Okay, okay…I know in the March presiJosh Kane, CLT 2018 President dent’s letter I said t h at s pr i n g w a s right around the corner, but now I can declare with resounding confidence that spring has finally sprung. As you read this, you can see the proof all around you: grass is being cut, mulch is being spread, and truckloads of colorful plants are being delivered to the nurseries and garden centers. With the strong economy and high demand, this year is shaping up to be a great one for many of us in the green industry, especially if you can find the managers and team members to get the work done. The difficulty in finding good employees is not new to us in the green industry, nor is this issue confined to only those in the service industry. Almost every company has some struggles in getting the “right people on the bus.” Luckily, there are hundreds of ways to attract potential candidates: internet job boards, career fairs, and word of mouth, to name a few. Unfortunately, hiring is just the beginning. Keeping the good ones around long term is the real goal and sometimes the real challenge. Like every company manager, I know our company will perform as greatly or as poorly as the people we employ. Like most people, I turn to self-help books, industry peers, and the internet for ideas on how to keep good team members part of OUR team. Below are some

basic, but often ignored, ways I have learned over the years to keep employees engaged. Get employees’ input and use it— Involve the people who are doing the work in deciding how the task will be accomplished. It only makes sense that there will be more buy-in from your team if they have had a say in why things are being done a certain way. Pay above standard rates—This is obvious and does not really need any further explanation. Those of you participating in the H2B program are already being “encouraged” to pay higher hourly rates. But don’t forget that, for many in our industry, minor increases in pay can mean great improvements in their quality of life, which usually translates to a less distracted, happier employee. Promote from within (when appropriate)—No one likes to be overlooked, and nothing encourages others more than seeing one of their peers move up. But be careful, because nothing discourages the rest of the team more than seeing someone who was promoted fail in their new position. Make sure you take the time to set clear expectations and train for the new role. Never assume that because a person did well in one role that he or she will necessarily be able to handle a more difficult role with increased responsibilities.



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Trim the dead (or dying) limbs—We all want to work with people who are positive and doing great work. It may be hard to let people go, but it is much harder to replace good employees who leave because they are frustrated by having to work with a person who is negative, gossips, has poor work ethics, etc. We all have kept an employee around too long because we thought the company would suffer without him or her, only to find out how much better things became once that person was wished farewell. Don’t micromanage—Micromanaging will drive good employees right out the door. Give them defined tasks and some direction, and then be available to answer questions. Encourage them to be creative and innovative in their own ways. Don’t demand that tasks be done your way. Judge the results rather than every little step they took to get there. Have a high EQ—This one takes a little more explanation. Most people quickly associate a successful business leader as someone who is very intelligent. Studies have shown, however, that the most successful leaders have a high EQ , or emotional intelligence. They are smart, but they also are genuine and honest, ask thoughtful questions, and don’t pass judgment quickly. Good leaders share or pass along most of the praise while taking on more than their share of blame. They are positive (smile a lot) and know how to

President's Message continued balance work and family to ensure that both are receiving enough time. These are all “learned” traits that you can improve on to make your employees enjoy coming to work that much more. Education—Training and employee growth do not end after the first couple weeks. Learning and development are often cited as the most important “perks” that a company can offer. According to a survey by Forbes, training and development are considered more important in overall job satisfaction than job security or even an attractive salary. No one wa nts to lose a qua lit y employee. As a leader, you have the responsibility to do what it takes to keep your people involved; LCA can help to keep your employees engaged and always learning. From the great upcoming events at McHale Landscape Design (May 30), which includes a presentation from industry leader Frank Mariani, and Ruppert Landscape (September 12), to 10 x 10 Designs (October 9), where leading landscape architects share their best projects, LCA is working hard to help your team grow. As you can read in the adjacent box, NALP is changing the certification test to be online only starting next year. If you or anyone on your team has been considering becoming certified or needs to finish/retake the test, now is your chance to complete the program. Meanwhile, the field test, which many companies feel is the most important part of the program and that the majority of students excel at, is still relevant.

Dear LCA Members, As many of you may already know, the National Association of Landscape Contractors (NALP) recently announced that, beginning in 2019, its Landscape Industry Certified (LIC) Technician–Exterior certification, which LCA has an agreement to administer, will change to an online-only testing system effective May 1, 2019 (one year from now). At that time, NALP will only be offering the online exam. As we understand it, the content of the online exam will remain consistent with the previous written test. If you are a current candidate of the Landscape Industry Certified Technician–Exterior program, you have until April 30, 2019, to complete the program under the existing system. We encourage you to take advantage of the training and test opportunities offered by LCA this summer to earn the certification by this date. After April 30, 2019, if you have not passed the test, you will be required to take the new online exam in its entirety. For 2018, the field test is still required for anyone continuing to pursue his or her certification. The LCA training and testing schedule is as follows: Training Session #1: Friday, June 15 Training Session #2: Saturday, June 16 Written Test: Tuesday, July 10 Hands-on/Field Test: Saturday, August 4 Earning the LIC designation is an important achievement and continues to be very relevant to the green industry, as it provides consumers with an added level of confidence, demonstrating your company’s commitment to qualified personnel, credibility, and dedication to best practices. Early registration pricing for the 2018 training and testing ends June 1. We encourage you to contact us at or (301) 948-0810 if you have any questions or require assistance. Sincerely, LCA Board of Directors

Sincerely, Josh Kane, CLT LCA President



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Plant of the Month

Lo & Behold®

A new twist on an old classic By William Angelis, Regional Landscape Architect/Project Manager, Ruppert Landscape, Inc. Buddleia x.

As we inch closer to summer, the majorit y of the region’s spring blooming shrubs have pea ked. Hydrangea, roses, and spirea are just a few of the plants that are utilized to extend the flowering season through the heat of summer. There is one shrub, however, that you may want to consider the next time you are contemplating a garden project. It’s a hybrid of an old standby—the Buddleia, more commonly known as the butterfly bush. Buddleia x. ‘Blue Chip’ is one variety in a series of dwarf butterfly bush called Lo & Behold®. This series was developed by the Raulston Arboretum in North Carolina. ‘Blue Chip’ is grown in tight mounding form, reaching a height of just 24–30 inches. It retains all of the characteristics of the traditional plant, attracting butterflies and hummingbirds with its fragrant flowers that bloom continuously f rom Ju ne to S eptemb er, a nd sporadically thereafter until first

frost. The flowers on the Blue Chip appear as blue-purple panicles on the ends of stems with willowy, elliptical leaves that are green to gray-green. ‘Blue Chip’ is rated for hardiness zones 5a thru 9b. As is common with all Buddleia, they are easily grown in average, well-drained soils. They require at least six hours of sun for optimal flower production or they will become sparse and woody in appearance. Buddleia is heat and drought tolerant and noninvasive, with no serious insect or disease problems. It has also shown to be deer resistant. Considered a lowmaintenance shrub, this Buddleia requires no pruning or deadheading through the growing season, but an early spring pruning would be beneficial to maintaining a tidy appearance and cause no harm with next season’s blooms, which occur on new growth. ‘Blue Chip’ is a very versatile shrub that can be utilized in a variety of GROUNDWORK


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ways throughout the garden. In planting beds, it can be used en mass as a filler or individually as an accent. It can be integrated into perennial gardens as well as rose gardens. This Buddleia is also small enough to be planted in containers and can also serve as a source of fresh-cut flowers. Additional cultivars of the Lo & Behold series to consider are ‘Pink Micro Chip,’ ‘Ice Chip,’ ‘Lilac Chip,’ and ‘Blue Chip Jr.’ ‘Pink Chip’ is an even smaller shrub that grows to 18–24 inches with an orchid pink flower. ‘Ice Chip’ and ‘Lilac Chip’ are similar to the ‘Blue Chip’ in growth habit, with the former displaying white flowers and the latter lavender blooms. ‘Blue Chip Jr.’ is a more condensed version of ‘Blue Chip.’ When planning your next project you may want consider this new version of a tried and tested plant to incorporate into your landscape. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

2017 Grand Award

A Bethesda Escape Fine Earth Landscape, Inc. Outdoor Living Area



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The client requested a rear entertaining area that included a pool, spa, swim-up bar, fireplace, TV, outdoor kitchen—all done with a modern flair and taking into account grade changes, water issues, and size constraints. A large rear retaining wall was built using tail-in-tail engineering, maximizing the space. A second wall done in handchiseled flagstone created the structure needed to provide water features to the pool and space for mounting the TV. A blade fireplace was added and covered in same stone design. All wall caps and the pool deck were done using wet-cast stone laid on a cement base and stack bond pattern. The swim-up bar was accomplished by installing a sunken bar and kitchen between the pool and spa features. Finally, a pergola allows the client to close the louvres in case of inclement weather. This structure uses solar power to operate the mechanics. All drainage is fed to a rain garden in the front yard.



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The Importance of Understanding Your Watershed By Greg Blackham, Aquatic Specialist, SOLitude Lake Management Did you know that everyone on this planet lives in a watershed? A watershed, defined, is any amount of land that collects water through precipitation and transports it to a common outlet. That common outlet could be a stream, irrigation pond, lake or even a large bay like the Chesapeake Bay. A watershed is simply a term used to describe a transitional downhill area that water collects and flows through to reach its destination. The topography of the land, through elevated ridges, outlines the edge of each watershed, and small sub-watersheds can combine to form larger watersheds. Everything we do affects our watersheds and our watersheds affect the quality of all life within it and beyond, which makes it critically important to understand our impact on surrounding waterbodies. Water traveling through the watershed is altered in numerous ways throughout its journey. Surface runoff, creeks, and ditches pick up all types of organic and inorganic materials. Harmful pollutants, like chemicals, fertilizers, and waste are transported into streams and waterbodies throughout the entire watershed, negatively impacting all life along the way. Nutrient pollution, primarily by phosphorus and nitrogen, can disrupt natural life cycles and biodiversity in every habitat that

they touch by fueling the growth of nuisance aquatic weeds and algae that the ecosystem cannot naturally manage. For example, cyanobacteria, commonly referred to as blue-green algae, thrive on phosphorous-rich water and can form harmful, potentially toxic blooms that can endanger wildlife, pets, and humans. Exposure to cyanobacteria has been linked to the development of degenerative diseases such as ALS, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. Prior to heavy urban development and widespread industrialization, nature was able to clean and filter water through a long and stable process. Through soil infiltration, plant transpiration, and evaporation, water was purified sufficiently to achieve a lasting balance. Development disrupts the process through soil removal, compaction, and the addition of acres of hard, impervious surfaces that increase water velocities and erosive forces. As the world continues to develop, so has our understanding of this delicate balance. We have learned that we can manage surface water at various stages in its cycle, including each pond and lake along its journey, to make it much less disruptive when it enters into our rivers, reservoirs, and bays. We have also learned that we have many opportunities to intercept and mitigate nutrient pollution, GROUNDWORK


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long before it becomes catastrophic to our most precious resources, sanctuaries, and livelihood, through stormwater management techniques and facilities. Lakes and ponds are one of the most critical points of interception in our watersheds because they exist at locations where a lot of water is contained in a relatively small area, and the speed of discharge can be regulated. These points offer the best opportunit y for removing excess nutrients and sediment from the water with a large array of methods, including aeration, nutrient mitigation products, organic waste removal, biological augmentation (beneficial bacteria infusion), invasive species management, and sediment settling. Though extremely effective, sustainable lake and pond management is not the only way to proactively improve the output of our watershed. The following cultural practices can also prevent a lot of nutrient pollution and chemical translocation before impurities even have a chance to leave the property: •

Use phosphorus-free fertilizers and reduce overall use on decorative lawns.

The Importance of Understanding Your Watershed continued •

Prevent leaves, lawn clippings, and organic waste from overburdening irrigation ponds.

Use environmentally friendly detergents and cleaners when washing equipment and vehicles.

Create natural filtering systems using infiltration media and vegetation to intercept water before it enters imper vious surfaces and storm drains.

Cha nge law nca re prac t ices to increase buffer zones and decrease soil and nutrient runoff.

It cannot be overstated how much watershed management determines the quality of life and the balance of nature. From direct impacts on crabbing, fishing, and farming yields, to property value, outdoor recreat ion, a nd flood da mage, watershed effects and consequences really are A to Z. Everyone should consider themselves a steward of water (and the environment in general). Improving the water quality of nearby lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams will go a long way in protecting regional assets and local wildlife—not to mention all the unseen positive effects down the road and into the future.

Greg Blackham is an aquatic specialist at SOLitude Lake Management, an environmental firm specializing in fullservice lake, pond, wetland, and fisheries management solutions. Learn more about this topic at: knowledge.

Some of the biggest positive impacts can be made to our environment when we support our watershed through proactive management. With time and community-backed efforts, we can greatly enhance quality of life and restore the balance of the ecosystem.



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Return of a Scale By Stanton Gill, Extension Specialist in Nursery and Greenhouse IPM, Central Maryland Research and Education Center, University of Maryland Cooperative Extension; Professor, Landscape Technology Program, Montgomery College We are seeing an uptick in samples of an armored scale commonly called the San Jose scale, Quadraspidiotus perniciosus (Comstock). Don’t be fooled by the common name—it is not originally from California or even America. It originated in China but was introduced to Southern California on imported peach trees back in the early 1870s. By the 1890s, it had spread to all parts of the United States, being transported on fruit trees that were moved around by nurseries and horticulturists.

In many nurseries, growers have started developing larger fruit trees to sell to customers who want fullsize producing fruit trees. With this influx of grafted trees, several are slipping through that have low populations of this armored scale on their trunks or branches. Several nurseries have submitted branch samples to our CMREC lab with female scale present. The scale is a tiny insect that sucks plant juices from twigs, branches,

fruit, and foliage. Although an individual scale alone cannot inflict much damage, a single female can produce several thousand scales in one season. If uncontrolled, scale can kill the tree. In the nursery, the scale may not be noticeable for the three or four years a tree is growing there, but it becomes apparent when moved into the landscape.


San Jose scale is most destructive on apple and pear, but it can be a serious pest of sweet cherry, peach, prune, and other tree fruits. It also attacks nut trees, berry bushes, and many kinds of shade trees and ornamental shrubs. We have seen samples submitted with this scale on flowering plums and crabapples.


The mature male San Jose scale is a very small, yellowish-tan insect with wings and long antennae. The female is wingless and legless, and its yellow body is soft and globular. The covering of a full grown female is about the size of a pinhead, with a central, nipple-like bulge. The covers tend to be light brown

Life Cycle

San Jose scale overwinters as third instar females, and crawlers occur in May in most years. There is a second generation in July/August and third one in September, giving

San Jose scale on plum.



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Return of a Scale continued this scale plenty of opportunity to increase in population on a plant in a single year. Newly hatched crawlers have six legs, two antennae, and a bristle-like sucking beak that is almost three times the length of its tiny, oval body. The crawler seeks a suitable site to settle and immediately begins to secrete a waxy covering over its body, which hardens into a scale. The scale turns from white to black and then to gray and goes through several molts before maturing. The differences between sexes become appa rent a f ter t he fi rst molt, although the scales covering them are identical. The females are smaller and rounder than the males and have lost their eyes, legs, and antennae.

Biological Control

There are several natural enemies that attack San Jose scale. On the East Coast, the parasitoids recorded from San Jose scale include Encarsia perniciosi and Aphytis sp. Although they destroy many scales, they do not provide enough control to prevent damage. Natural enemies may become numerous in nurseries that are not sprayed with cover spray insecticides, but even under these conditions, biological control has not been adequate. Currently, biological controls are only a supplement to chemical control.

Control Options

Dorma nt r a t e s (2–3%) of horticultural oil sprays can be applied to the overwintering scales to suffocate them. Once a plant breaks dormancy, then a 1% horticultural oil can be used.

A better (but usually more expensive control) is to use insect growth regulators. There are two on the market: Talus and Distance. This prevents the scale from developing into the next life stage, thus resulting in death. Impact on predators and parasites is greatly reduced over the use of broader spectrum pesticides. With applications aimed at the crawler stage, timing is critical.

If You Find This Scale Active in Your Area

Please send in samples if you think you have San Jose scale. Although I will keep the information confidential, I am trying to establish how widespread this armored scale is becoming in Maryland. My email is

Call for Volunteers The Landscape Industry Certified Technician Test could not take place without the dedication of a large number of volunteers. Whether for test site preparation, training, or judging, test volunteers play an extraordinary role in making the test a reality. It is yet another way that LCA members provide a community for the landscape industry. Volunteers are recognized in Groundwork magazine each year. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Lynn Turner ( at the LCA office. Volunteers who are Landscape Industry Certified will earn CEUs toward their NALP recertification.

Test Date: Saturday, August 4, 2018 Setup and Volunteer Orientation: Friday, August 3, 2018

Sign up to volunteer! For sponsorship opportunities, contact Barbara Bienkowski: GROUNDWORK


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Volunteers must attend the orientation

Trees Need TLC By Mary Elizabeth Williams-Villano When I was a little girl, I balked at drinking my orange juice at breakfast because I didn’t like the pulp. “You’re going to get scurvy!” my mother would threaten. I never did come down with the classic Vitamin C deficiency ailment that fruit-deprived sailors used to get, however, because my indulgent grandmother gave me grape juice instead. That was one of her many ways of giving me “TLC,” or tender loving care. Trees may look strong and invincible, but they also need TLC. And although all of the landscape professionals interviewed for this article are ISA (International Society of Arboriculture) certified arborists, they agree that you don’t have to be one of them in order to deliver TLC to your clients’ trees. A minimum, basic knowledge of what trees require is all that’s needed to keep them green and lush. These experts are also landscape contractors, or work at landscape companies. Like doctors, they’ve seen similar cases over and over again. We can benefit from that knowledge.


Trees need TLC starting from the very first day they’re planted. “The number-one issue we run into is trees being installed too deeply,” said Mark Bartlow, a Consulting Arborist at Ryan Lawn and Tree, Kansas City, Missouri.

“The root systems begin to fail, and then, so does the tree. Sometimes, if we get there early enough, we can take corrective measures. But there are times when we get there too late, and sadly, the tree has to be replaced.” This may have happened because the person planting the tree feared a strong wind would topple it. A better practice would have been to stake the tree to keep it upright, until such time as it could stand on its own, kind of like putting training wheels on a tot’s bike. If you think about a tree’s roots as its lungs, it’s easier to understand why deep planting isn’t good. Roots need air. Sunk too deep into the ground, they can’t access enough oxygen to send up into the tissues of the tree.

If you or I cinched a rope tightly around our necks, the results would be immediate. But trees take longer to choke, and the distress won’t show itself for years. Hovland’s seen deeply planted trees that have survived 10 or 15 years in a landscape. “Then, the owner calls me and says, the leaves are yellowed, or really small, and the canopy is thin. At that point, it’s often too late to correct the problem.” He’s saved many trees that were in this state by shaving the grade down to root depth. But if a tree’s too far gone, he says your only real choice is to remove it and start over. What’s the right way to install a tree? The thinking on that has changed over the years.

Another thing that overly deep planting causes is the phenomenon of stem-girdling roots. “It’s just like what happens in a pot-bound houseplant,” said Andrew Hovland, owner of Branch and Bough Tree Service and Landscape Care in St. Paul, Minnesota.

“The old adage was, use the top of the rootball as a guide, making it level with the ground,” said Bartlow. “Sometimes you’d get lucky and it worked; other times, that root flare, those first-order roots, would be buried inside the rootball.”

Unable to penetrate into the more tightly compacted soil around the tree, the roots instead circle around and around the bottom of the rootball. Eventually, they choke off the vascular flow of nutrients and water up into the canopy. “The root girdle acts like a tourniquet,” he said.

The modern thinking is to dig a hole two to five times as wide as the rootball, even wider on sites with compacted soil. The sides should be slanted, and the hole should be no deeper than the rootball is tall, so it can be placed directly on undisturbed soil. (continued on page 16)



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Robust Rebloomer TUFF STUFF® Red Hydrangea serrata ‘SMNMAKTSR’ pp#28672, cbraf This hydrangea begins blooming in early summer and continues through autumn, ensuring a showy, abundant display of large, lacecap flowers. Deep pink-red blooms, set off by lustrous, deep green foliage combined with its small, rounded habit make this hardy mountain hydrangea extra versatile in a wide variety of landscape uses.


TUFF STUFF® Red FULL TO PART SUN USDA ZONE 5, AHS 9 2-3' tall and wide

Available from these suppliers in 2018 Buds & Blooms Browns Summit, NC • 800-772-2837

Holly Hill Farms Earleville, MD • 410-275-2805

Piedmont Carolina Nursery Colfax, NC • 800-337-1025

David’s Nursery Exmore, VA • 757-442-700

Johnson Nursery Company Willard, NC • 800-624-817

Spring Run Farms Coatsville, PA • 610-380-1402

Marshall’s Riverbank Nursery Salisbury, MD • 410-677-0900

Trees Need TLC continued Tree roots typically grow sideways, and stay fairly shallow, so a wide, shallow hole fills the bill nicely. Make sure there is plenty of loose soil; heavy trees planted on packed backfill can sink. An area of loosened backfill has more pore space than the undisturbed soil, so roots can grow into it quickly. A good rule of thumb is that a tree’s root system should be planted at about the same depth as it grew in the nursery.


A tree given just the right amount of water is a beautiful sight. How much that ‘just right’ amount is varies with the species. “Some trees will tolerate more moist soils,” says Hovland.

“River Birch or Swamp White Oak can handle heavier soils and higher moisture content. But a savannah tree like Burr Oak doesn’t want to be sitting in water.” Too much water can be as bad as too little. Once again, the main issue is oxygen; roots that are drowning are deprived of it. Roots that are constantly under water are also prone to rot. This alone can kill a tree.


If a tree is doing well, it doesn’t need fertilization. In fact, trees are often over-fertilized, according to these experts. It should only be done as needed. If you’re already fertilizing

the lawn, some of that will get to the tree’s roots as well. “Signs of micronutrient deficiency are pretty obvious,” said Steven Geist, Senior Consulting Arborist at Swingle Lawn, Tree and Landscape Care in Aurora, Colorado. “The leaves turn chlorotic (yellow), and they scorch in the summertime.” He suggests testing the soil first to see what’s really required. “In our soils here, phosphorus and potassium are rarely deficient, so we just give them nitrogen.” Hovland recommends a granular, slow-release fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10, raking it into the mulch ring around the tree. (continued on page 18)


Wednesday, May 30, 2018; 5:30 pm–8:00 pm | Sponsored by McHale Landscape Design, Inc.


Working seven days a week just to keep up? Take a breather for this rare opportunity to go behind the scenes at McHale Landscape Design, Inc., where you’ll:

6:00 pm–6:45 pm Presentation by Frank Mariani

• Learn how one design/build firm has organized their operations.

6:45 pm–8:30 pm Overview of McHale and Facilities Tour

• Learn the steps they took to grow into the company they are now, and how they continue to expand their business.

* 5:00 pm–5:45 pm, Young and Emerging Professionals Panel Discussion

5:30 pm–6:00 pm Networking, Food, and Fun


• Take a facilities tour and speak with various department heads.

McHale Landscape Design, Inc. 6212 Leaply Road, Upper Marlboro, MD 20772



You’ll also get to hear from the highly respected Frank Mariani, Mariani Landscape, Inc. (owner of the largest privately owned residential landscape company in the U.S.), on New Trends in HighEnd Residential Landscape Architecture. Mariani Landscape is located in Lake Bluff, Illinois. Thank You to Our Exhibitors: JK Enterprise Landscape Supply, LLC Manor View Farm, Inc.

Babikow Greenhouses LandOpt SiteOne Landscape Supply



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Country Springs Wholesale Nursery Lusby Motor Company The Stone Store

Over 1,500 choices delivered to you. perennials, natives, ferns, grasses, vines, herbs, ground covers, pansies, dahlias, cannas, green roof and environmental planning material. • 410-592-8077

Trees Need TLC continued Pruning

When we cut our nails, we only trim them to a certain length. Go any further, into the ‘quick,’ and pain and bleeding is the result. It’s more or less the same for trees. Prune them well, and they flourish; prune them too much, and you can send a tree into shock. “Branches have collars,” said Anne Taylor, owner and president of Living Elements Landscape, LLC, in Portland, Oregon. “That’s the point at which the branches are attached. I often see them cut into, because someone wanted to make a cut really flush to the tree, and didn’t want to have a little stub left over.” But if you cut into that collar, you’re cutting into the trunk, and the tree can’t seal that wound off properly. This leaves an open door for insects and diseases to enter. The result is a higher rate of decay, which will weaken a tree as the years pass. I f y o u a r e n’ t c e r t a i n a b o u t pr un i ng , t here’s a plet hora of guidance available for you and your employees, from multiple sources. Both the ISA and TCIA (the Tree Care Industry Association) have guidelines on their websites. Both organizations publish inexpensive books in both English and Spanish, with the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) standards for all aspects of tree care that can be used for tailgate training. County and university extensions can help with information and courses, many of them online. All of these resources can help you and your workers prune with confidence, in a way that helps rather than hurts.


Mulching is great for trees. It helps them hang onto moisture, reduces soil compaction around roots and cools the soil above them. A little of it goes a long way, however. Arborists often run across ‘mulch volcanoes,’ organic matter piled a foot high up the trunks of trees. “People are told that two to three inches of mulch will be beneficial,” said Geist. “So they think, ‘well then, ten or 12 inches of it will be even better.’ But it’s not. If you look at a tree in a forest, it won’t have 12 inches of leaf litter or debris around it.” “Animals can burrow in and make their homes in the volcano, and start chewing on the trunk,” said Geist. “Also, the roots of the tree can start growing into that mulch, then dry out over the winter.” Too much moisture against a trunk causes decay. And piling material onto tree roots suffocates them just as much as burying them too deep does. How much mulch should be spread around the bases of trees? These experts advise no more than three to four inches, at maximum. That’s plenty.

Topping (don’t!)

Topping is the practice of removing the upper portion of a tree in order to shorten it or reduce its canopy. Arborists hate it, because it starts a tree on a downward spiral and hastens its death. After all, it’s tough to thrive when your head’s been cut off. It’s often done when a homeowner fears that the big, beautiful sycamore in his yard might fall over one day and damage his home. Or when a



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business owner notices a tree blocking his sign. “I’ve seen a lot of landscape companies topping trees, and it frustrates me more than anything,” said Taylor. Besides, according to her, it’s counterproductive. If safety is the goal, topping a tree ironically makes it less safe. “The new growth that comes in consists of what we call ‘suckers,’ branches that aren’t attached very well. There’s a high likelihood that they’ll break off in a storm.” Also, the new growth will come in twice as fast, so if it’s blocking something, it’ll just have to be trimmed again the following year. Prudent pruning is all that’s needed to make a tree’s canopy smaller and less heavy. If it’s felt that a tree is truly too big, it’s better to replace it rather than top it, says Taylor.

Location, location, location

Ever hear the old expression, “Bloom where you’re pla nted? ” A t ree certainly will—if it’s put in the right place. If not, a tree may survive, but it’ll struggle, and that can shorten its lifespan. Unfortunately, many have been stationed in less-than-ideal spots, either at a property owners’ insistence, or out of ignorance by the people planting them. “Say you’re planting a tree that likes droughty soils,” said Hovland. “You dig a hole, and there’s standing water at the bottom. That’s the normal state of that soil, and you can predict that that tree is not going to do well there.” Ideally, you should try to

Trees Need TLC continued match the type of soil that the species you’re planting is normally found in. Another oft-seen mistake is planting trees that normally grow in the understory of forests where they’re shaded all day, in full sun. Like a fair-skinned person at the beach with no sunblock, it’s set up for failure. If a client insists on planting a tree in a spot you know is wrong for it, apply some TLC by educating him as to why a different choice would work better.

Insects and diseases

When people get sick, they give off signs: sneezing, running fevers and so forth. Trees are no different. This is a good thing; if we pay attention, we can help them before a problem gets too serious. Yellowing or falling leaves at the height of spring or summer, holes and bulges in trunks, dieback of canopies, and dripping sap are are all indications that something’s amiss. Insects and diseases often work in tandem to hurt trees. “Many of the worst problems are ‘insect-vectored diseases,’” said Rob Gorden, director of urban forestry and business development for Arborjet, Woburn, Massachusetts. “The mature insect brings a disease into the tree. It’s like bringing your lunch box to work with you, but what’s in it makes everybody sick.” An example of this is the Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer, an invasive non-native pest recently discovered in Southern California that attacks more than 300 species of trees. It introduces a fungus called Fusarium euwallacea that it cultivates to feed its larvae. This one-two punch of pest-plus-fungus can kill a tree. Every region has its particular pest and disease problems. The Bronze Birch Borer has hit Oregon pretty hard; Taylor won’t plant any birch because of it. A fungal disease called Oak Wilt has killed thousands of oaks in the Midwest. And the infamous Emerald Ash Borer recently entered Geist’s state, Colorado. Drought in the New England states has caused the gypsy moth population to explode. Normally, it’s kept in check by a fungus that kills its caterpillars, GROUNDWORK


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Trees Need TLC continued but lack of rain killed the fungus. “A massive hatchout is expected this spring, which is expected to result in extensive defoliation,” said Gorden.

Excellence in Landscape Awards

While not much can be done about huge swaths of infested forest, trees in landscapes are luckier. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to protect your clients’ valuable shade producers using sprays, soil drenches and microinjections. Some of these treatments will shield a tree for as long as three years. Insecticides delivered via microinjection have the advantage of being confined to only the tree being treated, making them much more eco-friendly.

Some Things to Consider

It’s important to know exactly what species of trees are in your clients’ yards, and about the pests and diseases that plague them, both old and new. There’s lots of information online, such as the several websites devoted to the Emerald Ash Borer alone.

Landscaping companies from across Maryland, Virginia, and D.C. are beginning the prep work required to submit their projects for a coveted LCA Excellence in Landscape Award. With online submissions opening on May 15, why are so many companies working on their submissions now?

They can keep you up-to-date on the latest areas they’ve invaded, and what treatments are recommended. If you know a pest is getting close to your area, you can treat a vulnerable tree ahead of time and keep it safe.

When to call in an arborist

If a tree seems in dire straits, Geist suggests finding an arborist with a TRAQ (Tree Risk Assessment Qualification). They’re specially trained to identify structural integrity problems.

Great entries take time to prepare. Each entry requires a full description of the project and details of any special or unique problems that were incurred. In addition, 10–15 photos of each project must be submitted, with a description of what’s being shown in the picture. For winning entries, these photos and descriptions are used on LCA’s website, in Groundwork, and in Home & Design magazine, so they should be descriptive and interesting.

They know how to spot ‘response wood,’ additional material a tree produces when there is a hollow or weak spot. “If he sees a bulge, that tells him to look for decay. He knows how to tap the trunk with a mallet, or drill into it to assess its soundness. It’s an art.”

As a reminder, entries for each awards category do not compete against each other. Each entry is judged individually against that category’s criteria, and all entries that meet the criteria win an award. The key is to start early and take your time.

Rather than waiting until things reach a critical stage, Bartlow suggests developing a relationship with a good certified arborist, someone you can ask questions of, refer customers to (and vice versa).



You already provide tender loving care to your clients’ grass, shrubs and other plantings. All their trees really need is a little of that same TLC to keep them blooming, shading and thriving for decades to come.

Excellence in Landscape Awards

Reprinted with permission from Irrigation and Green Industry Magazine, April 2017. GROUNDWORK


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