Pro Grow News Spring.24 DIGITAL EDITION

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Carpeting the Ground
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Winter Forum & Annual Meeting Stormwater Management
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pro grow news Spring 2024 6 President’s Message 8 Committee Reports 44 Advertisers Index 46 Plant for Success — Japanese Plum Yew On the cover — A burst of spring color provided by DeVroomen Garden Products. 10 Successful Education Inspires Learning and Networking 14 When the Rain Comes 20 Carpeting the Ground 28 12 Natives to Know and Grow 38 Technologies for Turf Grass Management 40 Spring Lawn Equipment Tips to Keep Crews Safe 42 Preventing Nursery Injuries Departments contents Features Spring|2024 3|


Kerry Preston, MCH

Wisteria & Rose, Inc. (617) 522-3843


David Vetelino, MCH

Vetelino Lanscape Inc.

Tel: (781) 826-0004


Dave Anderson

Mayer Tree

Tel: (978) 768-6999


Chris O’Brien, MCH

Howard Designs, Inc.

Tel: (617) 244-7269


Steve Davis, MCH Bigelow Nurseries, Inc

Laura DiCarlo, MCH Cavicchio Greenhouses, Inc.

Justin Mortensen Farm Credit East

Patrick Parent Mahoney’s Garden Centers

Kelly Perry, MCH

Swan Point Cemetery


Deborah Trickett, MCH

The Captured Gardens (781) 329-9698


Steve Corrigan, MCH — Chair

Mountain View Landscapes & Lawncare, Inc.

Tel: (413) 536-7555

Chuck Baker, MCH — Vice Chair

Strictly Pruning

Tel: (508) 429-7189


Chris O’Brien, MCH

Howard Designs, Inc.

Tel: (617) 244-7269


Philip Boucher, MCH — Chair

Elysian Garden Designs

Tel: (508) 695-9630

Skott Rebello, MCH — Vice Chair

Harborside P.S.

Tel: (508) 994-9208


Justin Mortensen - Chair

Farm Credit East

Tel.: (508) 946-4455


Corinne Jean, MCH — Chair

Wisteria & Rose (617) 522-3843

Advisor: Jack Elicone, MCH John R. Elicone Consulting


David Ahronian, MCH - Chair

Ahronian Landscape & Design, Inc. (508) 429-3844




Rena M. Sumner Tel: (413) 369-4731



Chief: Rena Sumner MNLA Reporter: Amber Ahronian
Advisors: Rick Reuland, Trevor Smith, Beverly Sturtevant
V. Fernandes Attorney at Law
pro grow news ProGrowNews is published quarterly by the Massachusetts Nursery & Landscape Association (MNLA), P.O. Box 387, Conway, MA 01341, tel. (413) 369-4731. Articles do not necessarily reflect the view or position of MNLA. Editorial coverage or permission to advertise does not constitute endorsement of the company covered or of an advertiser’s products or services, nor does ProGrowNews make any claims or guarantees as to the accuracy or validity of the advertiser’s offer. (c) 2014 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in print or electronically without the express written permission of the MNLA. Massachusetts Nursery & Landscape Association P.O. Box 924 Palmer, MA 01069 pro|grow|news |4
board committees
pro grow news Spring 2024
5| 40 Frankland Road, Hopkinton 3 River Street, Middleboro 160 Pine Hill Road, Chelmsford Inspiring Quality. Exceptional Value. (508) 293-8028 (508) 946-1505 (978) 349-0055 *Also serving wholesale customers at our garden centers located at 1099 Main Street, Hingham (781) 749-3773 and 339 South Great Rd (Route 117), Lincoln (781) 259-8884.

One Gardener, One Steward to Another President’s Message

It is a cold and raw day as I sit here writing my first message to you as MNLA President. Is spring right around the corner? I have no idea. The one thing I do know about myself is that I am no meteorologist. What I am is a gardener. I am a steward of the earth; I hear the voices of the trees, the shrubs, the plants, and the ecosystems that I have been given the pleasure of working with. So that is where this first message comes from, one gardener, one steward to another.

Tell me, what do you do over the winter? Do you remove snow and ice? Do you buy plants for your nursery and your clients? Do you design beautiful spaces and source materials? Do you travel to warm and lush places full of plants and flowers in bloom (all gardeners travel to gardens — no need to pretend otherwise)? Maybe you fill your winter with streamlining your business practices, hiring new and talented staff, researching new ways to advertise and highlight your products to people, or you go to every trade show and educational event you can fit into these dark, but short, months.

I tend to slow down a bit, personally and professionally, in the winter. I take the opportunity to sit and look out the window at the neglected garden that I never put to bed. The leaves are still piled up under all the shrubs. Why remove them now when spring will eventually be here, and I can do it then? I contemplate the trees in the backyard, maybe I should get them pruned this year? I watch the sunrise each morning while I drink my coffee, relieved that I do not need to run out the door to work, at least today. Then the seed and bulb catalogs arrive, and I start to plan out what I am going to grow this year — for my clients of course (OK, just for my own garden) — and I start the process of moving forward again.

I begin to feel renewed about the end of January. The MNLA Winter Forum is nearing, and I will be there, ready to see old and new friends and connecting and learning with my colleagues. Were you there this year? What was your favorite part? I was inspired by Doug Tallamy. His story and his vision are remarkable and incredibly hopeful. What a gift to have him speak to us, his fellow gardeners, and stewards.

Did you feel inspired by the Winter Forum? Maybe this is the year you would like to step outside your comfort zone and join a committee or volunteer at an event. We would love to have you in any capacity that you could manage. All of our events are put on by people just like you, taking a little extra time to ensure that things are ready and set up when you arrive — our Go Team. If you have attended an MNLA event, you know some of these incredible people: Kelly Perry, Jean Dooley, Deb Trickett, Rena Sumner, and Cathy Day. Our events could not take place without people like this team of gardeners and stewards just like you.

The Summer Conference is coming up on July 25, and we are assembling our Go Team as I type. Wachusett Mountain

has welcomed us before, and we will be heading back there to enjoy a day full of education, connection, community, and collaboration. Openings on the team include the Education Committee, the Go Team, and the Fun Team. Last year, it was a mechanical bull, this year, who knows? We would welcome your input and your help in creating another successful event.

Feeling more of a plant geek vibe? How about joining your fellow plant geeks at Franklin Park Zoo in August? The MCH board is looking for new faces to join their dynamic and engaging group of plant explorers. Believe me, this is the place to be if you would like to discuss the many secret little ways you use to Identify plants.

What about fall? Is this your favorite time to plant trees and shrubs? It is mine. The warm earth, cooler temperatures, and the potential for rain increases make it the perfect growing time for us gardeners. And of course, the dahlias. Oh, the dahlias. Trust me, buy yourself a tuber, stick it in the ground, and wait for the most incredible display of flowers that magically appear in August and last until frost. We can discuss the best ones at the Leadership Forum in October. My advice to my children has always been, “Do not turn down leadership training, ever.” So please, join us for the Leadership Forum. You will never regret getting to know yourself and your leadership style. Hang out with your fellow stewards and fellow gardeners, discuss the year, share your knowledge, and ask for advice. This is what we do at MNLA: We connect.

Thanks for reading my long ramble, my fellow gardeners. Please say, “Hello!” if you see me at the nursery stuffing the truck with flowers and trees. Or maybe I will run into you as I garden in Boston, pruners in hand and dirt up to my elbows. Either way, I am here for you, and I appreciate each and every one of you.

All my best, Kerry Preston, MCH Wisteria & Rose

P.S. Could I have just one more minute of your time to introduce you to the MNLA board members? They are also looking forward to connecting with you wherever you might meet, trowel in one hand, cell phone in the other.

Chris O’Brien, MCH, Past President, Howard Designs

David Vetelino, MCH, Vice President, Vetelino Landscapes

David Anderson, Secretary/Treasurer, Mayer Tree Service

Justin Mortensen, Board Member, Farm Credit East

Patrick Parent, Board Member, Mahoney’s Garden Center

Steve Davis, MCH, Board Member, Bigelow Nurseries

Kelly Perry, MCH, Board Member, Swan Point Cemetery

Laura DiCarlo, MCH, Board Member, Cavicchio Greenhouses pro|grow|news |6


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Greenhouse Fire Suppression

When should greenhouses in Massachusetts have fire suppression systems? Under the current building code, an automated fire suppression system is seldom required. If a proposed revised building code is adopted, nearly every greenhouse will need to have a fire suppression system at a cost that may become prohibitive for the growing of many landscape and decorative plants.

As the effects of the proposed code changes on greenhouse construction and remodeling became apparent, MNLA joined with the Massachusetts Flower Growers Association and Massachusetts Farm Bureau to make the devastating economic impact of the proposed code changes clear to the building code writers by speaking at public hearings in Boston, Springfield, and via a Zoom session. These were followed by calls and letters to legislators and other state officials from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources on up to the governor’s office.

As this article goes to press, no decisions have been made. MNLA has requested ongoing discussion with affected parties to more carefully delineate when and where the most stringent fire safety requirements are imposed for legitimate safety reasons.

Glyphosate Study Nearing Completion

A study of the existing scientific literature on the possible adverse side effects of glyphosate, the active ingredient in many herbicide products, is nearly complete. The state legislature established a commission to conduct a scientific review of the potential impacts of glyphosate and the most common alternative herbicides on the environment and public health. A draft of the Phase 2 report has been completed. The pending issuance of the final version of the Phase 2 report will complete the study. The final report is expected to be the subject of public hearings later this year.

Two New Additions to the Massachusetts Prohibited Plant List

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources proposes to add two plant species to the state’s Prohibited Plant List on the recommendation of the Massachusetts Invasive Plant Advisory Group. MDAR is holding a public hearing on April 26th on the recommendation to declare Japanese black pine (Pinus thunbergii) as invasive and Callery/Bradford pear (Pyrus calleryana) as likely invasive.

For more information regarding the analysis and hearing, check the MDAR website: massachusetts-prohibited-plant-list-updates.


Happy Springtime!

Reflecting on the MNLA Winter Forum in February, it was a delightful experience, where the camaraderie among familiar and new faces at the plant ID booth underscored the excellence within our industry. The contemplation of plant samples in their winter dormancy sparked an appreciation for the distinctive features exhibited during this season, provoking curiosity and inquiry among test takers. However, the collective passion for plants and the eager anticipation of spring resonated throughout the room.

I feel fortunate I was able to take a trip to New Orleans in late February and see the magnolias blooming and the cracks of green tree buds starting to come alive. As a kid, I always got excited and said, “My green is coming back!” at the first sign of bud break. I felt lucky that I got to experience this twice this spring. As we brace ourselves for the approaching springtime frenzy, let’s not overlook the enchantment of bud break and take a moment to savor the fragrant blossoms.

In preparation for the months ahead, kindly mark your calendars for the summer MCH exam on August 7th and Plant Geek Day at Franklin Park Zoo on August 28th. Acknowledging the success of our February exam, we extend a warm welcome to our list of new MCH members.

Stay tuned for our MCH e-blast newsletters and consider contributing your plant selfies or mini-articles for an opportunity to earn half a credit.

Wishing you a successful and fulfilling spring season ahead.

Corinne Jean, MCH, MCLP

Wisteria & Rose

New MCH Members

Matthew Cembrola, MCH Cavicchio Greenhouses, Inc.

Laura DiCarlo, MCH Cavicchio Greenhouses, Inc.

Andrew Foley, MCH Mainstay Landscape

Sawyer James, MCH Hussey Merrifield Garden & Design

Heather Halsey, MCH Heather Garden Design

Jennifer King, MCH Joyce Landscaping

Jon Kraus, MCH Laurel Gardens

Jeffrey Mathieu, MCH Parterre Garden Services

Marc Mertz, MCH H.F. Johnson Tree Farms

Todd Patch, MCH W.T. Leroyer Landscape and Design

Sophia Pilling, MCH Sweetfern Gardening

Olivia Santamaria, MCH Terrascapes Landscape Design

Ellen Scheid, MCH Essex Horticulture

Anthony Serra, MCH Parterre Garden Services pro|grow|news |8
Committee Reports

Established in 1910, Cavicchio Greenhouses is a fourth-generation New England farm working more than 250 acres in Sudbury. As a horticultural grower and landscape distributor, we cultivate and supply an extensive variety of annuals and perennials, nursery stock, stone, masonry and landscape materials. With a hard-earned reputation for service, quality, selection and sustainability, we work with professionals and garden centers throughout the area to keep our region beautiful.

110 Codjer Lane, Sudbury, MA 01776



Successful Education Inspires Learning and Networking

Education and trade shows serve as powerful platforms to connect industry professionals, students, and enthusiasts, fostering innovation and collaboration. On February 14 & 15, 2024, MNLA’s Winter Forum & Annual Meeting stood out for its exceptional education, impactful content, and successful networking opportunities.

The event, held at the Sheraton Hotel & Conference Center in Framingham, featured a diverse range of exhibitors, from leading educational institutions to prominent companies showcasing the latest trends in their respective fields. Attendees had the opportunity to engage with industry experts, explore new technologies, and participate in hands-on workshops and seminars.

One of the key highlights of the event was Doug Tallamy “Bringing Nature Home,” one of 17 speakers who shared their insights and expertise on topics ranging from emerging trends with native plants to the future of pollinators in the landscape due to climate change. The one-anda-half day program boasted more than 17 sessions that not only provided valuable knowledge but also inspired attendees to think critically and creatively about how our industry can help shape the future.

In addition to the educational sessions, the event offered ample networking opportunities, allowing attendees to connect with like-minded individuals and potential collaborators. Programs like the vendor reception and “You are the Pro” provided a relaxed environment for meaningful conversations and idea exchange.

The success of the event can be attributed to the meticulous planning and execution by the MNLA Education Committee and the MNLA Board of Directors, who ensured that every aspect of the event was thoughtfully curated to provide maximum value to attendees. From the selection of exhibitors to the scheduling of sessions, every pro|grow|news |10
Doug Tallamy Talks about Home Grown National Parks

detail was carefully considered to create a seamless and enriching experience around our theme of “Climate Change is not the Weather!”

Thanks to more than 500 attendees, the “Dreams & Solutions” winter event was a resounding success, bringing together professionals, students, and enthusiasts to learn, network, and be inspired.

As the event continues to grow in popularity, it is poised to become a mustattend event for anyone looking to stay ahead in their field. Want to add your expertise to our programming committee? Join us on our “Go Team” for education and programming. Go to: mnla. com/goteam/ to learn how you can make your mark on this great team!

We hope you enjoy the photo montage…and don’t forget to SAVE THE DATE of February 12 & 13 for our 2025 program!

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MNLA Newly Elected Board of Directors: Front row: Kelly Perry, MCH, Swan Point Cemetery (Director); Laura DiCarlo, MCH, Cavicchio Greenhouses (Director), Rena Sumner, Executive Director. Back row: Justin Mortensen, Farm Credit East (Director); Dave Anderson, Mayer Tree (Treasurer/Secretary); Kerry Preston, MCH, Wisteria & Rose (President); David Vetelino, MCH, Vetelino Landscape, Inc. (Vice President); Steve Davis, MCH, Bigelow Nurseries (Director) and Christopher O’Brien, MCH, Howard Garden Design (Immediate Past President). Absent, Patrick Parent, Mahoney’s Garden (Director).
13| Spring|2024
MNLA Past Presidents united representing Presidential Volunteerism served from 1976 to 2024. Left to right front: Jim Stucchi, MCH; Tim Lomasney, Pat Bigelow, MCH; Mary Jesch. Middle row: Jeff Willman, MCH, Wayne Mezitt, MCH; Steve Corrigan, MCH; Chris O’Brien, MCH; Mark Ahronian, MCH. Back row: Peter Mezitt, MCH; Chris Kennedy, MCH; Mark Sawyer, Jim Connolly, MCH. Congratulations to Chrisopher Johnston, MCH of Ahronian Landscape & Design, Inc on being MNLA’s 2024 recipient of the MNLA Young Nursery and Landscape Award of the Year. Congratulations to Deborah Trickett, MCH of The Captured Garden on her receipt of the MNLA President’s Award.

When the Rain Comes...

April showers bring May flowers. It’s a saying we all grew up with, but do they? April hasn’t proven to be the reliable rainy month it once was. In fact, in the past few years, May has had to bring her own showers and her own flowers.

In the past 40 years, the number of major meteorological events has doubled and this lifegiving element — the reason there is life on this planet to begin with — has become anything but predictable. Our rain events have become more feast or famine than a steady diet, and here in the Northeast, the snow isn’t much better.

So, what now? What do we do with our new reality? We can do a lot, as it turns out, but this will involve changing some habits and practices and getting back to basics. Let’s start by getting on the same page when it comes to terminology.

Weather and climate are not the same. Weather is what is happening atmospherically at a specific time and location. For example, it’s raining in Hopkinton this morning.

Climate, on the other hand, is how we describe weather patterns over a longer period of time. For example, the number of days over 100 degrees has increased over the past 30 years, and the number of extreme meteorological events has doubled in the past 40 years.

Rain and stormwater are not the same. Rain is the water that falls from the sky when moisture in the atmosphere condenses and falls to Earth in the form of droplets.

Stormwater is water that originates from rainfall or melting snow that runs off across the land instead of infiltrating into the ground. Along the way, it picks up pollutants such as sediment, nutrients, and metals as it runs across paved and unpaved areas.


Green infrastructure (GI) or nature-based solutions use methods that restore and protect hydrology or mimic the natural water cycle.

Now that we are using the same terminology, let’s look at what we can do about it.

Compaction is (in my mind) the most unrecognized contributor to the climate crisis. Compaction leads to loss of biodiversity, and severely reduces the soil’s ability to sequester carbon. It also contributes to runoff and flooding by not allowing the water to infiltrate.

• Step 1. Admit we screwed up. By owning up to the fact that through hubris or ignorance, we have created the circumstances that have led to many of the issues we face today.

• Step 2. Call it what it is. We don’t have a flooding problem; we have an infiltration problem. Flooding is a symptom like a fever or cough. Infiltration is the actual problem like a virus or infection. If we address the infection, the fever will go away. If we address infiltration, the flooding will go away.

• Step 3. Don’t overcomplicate it. New technologies and products like permeable pavements, green roofs, and others can help us find a compromise between our current living needs, our stormwater issues, and the needs of the planet.

The thought that we can outsmart or strong-arm nature is counterproductive and is how we got into

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this mess in the first place. Our roads and parking lots aren’t going anywhere, but they could be designed better once we focus on infiltration. The same goes for our cities and buildings. If we keep it simple and focus on the processes nature has developed, we will get the results we need without heroic measures and billions in technological development costs.

I often hear, “I don’t know about those new methods,” or “How reliable are these new technologies?”

The idea of working with nature to manage stormwater is far from new. Machu Picchu is over 300 years old and was built using many of the methods used in GI such as terracing and soils designed to quickly infiltrate — all to manage stormwater and keep the empire from washing off the mountain.

The keys to managing stormwater are reducing velocity and volume. In doing so, we reduce the damage and destruction storm events can cause and we make infiltration possible. Again, focus on the basics.

Green Roofs

While green roofs have numerous benefits, they are not designed to eliminate runoff, but rather slow it. If you picture a rain event in an urban area, all the water rushes off the impervious surfaces (roofs, roads, parking lots) at once.

The goal of the green roof is to mimic nature and slow the rate at which the water reaches the bottom of the watershed, in this case, the street or storm drain. Instead of running right

off the roof, the water is captured (reducing velocity), and whatever water is not held in the soil slowly makes its way through the system to the roof drain and then to the storm drain or street (reducing volume) while being filtered, resulting in cleaner runoff making its way into our waterways. Let’s call it a high-tech way of managing the velocity and volume of stormwater.

The Low-Tech Version…Trees!

Trees are the cheapest and one of the most effective ways to manage stormwater. Trees intercept the raindrops, steal the velocity, and slowly release the rainwater to the ground below, reducing the volume and increasing infiltration.


Raingardens and bioretention are additional ways we can use nature’s existing systems to help mitigate flooding and increase infiltration. These are essentially the same practices on different scales. Both are designed to capture stormwater run-off and hold it allowing it to infiltrate.

A raingarden is more for a single-family residence. It is suited and sized to capture the runoff from one or two downspouts. It is a depressed garden, shaped as a shallow bowl about 6–8 inches deep at the deepest point, carved into the native soils.

To build a raingarden, one must first determine whether the soil will drain within 12 hours or less. The easiest way to

Permeable pavements, drywells, and rain harvesting are other methods of stormwater management, but there is one action we can all perform daily to help alleviate and mitigate stormwater and its effects and that’s the prevention of compaction.

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do this is to dig a hole in the desired area 10 inches (shoveldepth) deep. The best area for a raingarden is 10 feet or more from the foundation of the house. You do not want to capture and hold water near the foundation.

Fill the hole with water and allow it to drain. Fill the hole again and time how long it will take to drain. If it is less than 12 hours, congratulations, you have the perfect site for a rain garden. The reason you fill the hole twice is to determine infiltration in saturated soils.

The next step is to calculate the amount of water coming from the downspout. To do this, you can do the math or download the UCONN raingarden app, plug in the dimensions of the roof, and let it do the calculating for you. You would be surprised how much water comes off a roof in just a 1-inch rain event. A 2,000-square-foot roof yields 1,250 gallons of stormwater runoff. That’s 312 gallons per downspout assuming there are four downspouts.

Proper sizing is important. To plant your raingarden, keep it simple and just use your favorite perennials. Better yet, use this opportunity to plant that pollinator garden you have been considering. Most plants can stand to be saturated for about a day, so don’t worry about special planting, and certainly never plant a raingarden with water-loving plants because your garden will likely be dry more than wet.

designed for a specific infiltration rate. In addition, bioretention systems typically have an underdrain or an overflow that runs to a storm drain. The plantings of a bioretention system are designed not only to survive inundation, but also for ease of maintenance. Some plantings and soils are also designed for phytoremediation or the removal of pollutants such as heavy metals and hydrocarbons.

Preventing Compaction

Permeable pavements, drywells, and rain harvesting are other methods of stormwater management, but there is one action we can all perform daily to help alleviate and mitigate stormwater and its effects: prevention of compaction.

Lastly, never site a raingarden in the wet area of a property; that would be a bog garden. The idea of the raingarden is to infiltrate the water, so the ideal setting would be upslope from the low wet area to help dry out that area.

I just mentioned how much water comes off a residential roof in a rain event, but what about on a larger scale? A 1-acre roof or parking lot yields 27,000 gallons in that same 1-inch rain event. Think of a mall or an office building. It’s not surprising we have flooding issues. To infiltrate water of this quantity, we need to look to larger and more engineered solutions. This is where bioretention comes into play.

Bioretention systems are essentially engineered raingardens. They do not use native soils but rather have soils

Compaction is (in my mind) the most unrecognized contributor to the climate crisis. Compaction leads to loss of biodiversity and severely reduces the soil’s ability to sequester carbon. It also contributes to runoff and flooding by not allowing the water to infiltrate.

Remember earlier I said, “Don’t overcomplicate it?” If we focus on restoring our soils, we can increase infiltration, which reduces flooding. If we as professionals can be aware of how we are compacting the soil — even if it is running mulch to a backyard in a wheelbarrow — we can dramatically begin to undo the damage we have done. We don’t need to be on a stormwater job or stormwater professionals to make a daily difference.

This is where changing our habits comes in. Repeated running of mulch across a yard in a wheelbarrow can cause compaction. The use of heavy machinery such as a bobcat on unprotected soil can compact the soil to a depth of 3 feet. It takes a lot more than an aerator to fix that type of damage. By being aware of our actions and planning our workflow on a property as well as taking precautions such as using plywood or track mats, we can make a huge difference, and we become part of the solution rather than part of the problem. pro|grow|news |18

Carpeting the Ground

Carpeting the Ground: Plants That Can Replace Lawn, Act As Green

Groundcovers are an invitation to lushness in our landscapes. Instead of mulch, hardscape, or lawn, these hardy plants provide months of beautiful foliage and weeks of lovely flowers. Their textures add a final grace note to designs, anchoring them in place and connecting plant communities and garden spaces. We talked with author, editor, and podcaster Kathy Jentz, whose recent book Groundcover Revolution is an information-packed guide to using these durable plants.

Your clients may have asked about green mulch, matrix plants, or green manure, new terms for our groundcover friends. Whatever they’re called, low-growing perennial plants are making a comeback as people discover their environmental benefits and become weary of the mulching routine. In general, groundcovers are low-maintenance aggressive spreaders. There are many choices for sun or shade and some that can transition across a range of light requirements.

Designing with Groundcovers

“Probably one of the first things to think about when designing with groundcovers is the usage of the area,” comments Jentz. “Is it going to be walked on? If so, how heavily? How often? Are these plants going to live between steppingstones or the edge of a path?” One of the best uses of groundcovers is to fill in a high-traffic area, especially if mulch gets washed away. This category of low-growing plants can hold the ground, and many can handle differing degrees of foot traffic. If it’s an ornamental footpath to the shady corner of the yard, bugleweed (Ajuga reptans) might be the way to go. If you’ve got a sunny walk to the vegetable patch, creeping thyme (Thymus praecox) might be the ticket as it not only can be trod on repeatedly, but it also releases a delicious fragrance when brushed.

“Another top design consideration is height,” said Jentz. “Do you want a low plant that’s only a few inches tall? Is it an

Mulch, and Deliver Beauty

area that could transition to plants that are, say, knee-height? There are many choices of perennials that will spread and colonize at each height level. You can also mix and match for greater textural interest. Try ground-hugging plants for the front of a planting bed and graduating upwards as you go back from the foreground.” If aggressiveness is a concern, slower-growing plants like ferns, hosta, and brunnera will eventually fill an area, depending on the variety. They might be a bit taller than what we traditionally consider for groundcovers, but they do the job of taking up space with dynamic textures.

Groundcovers can be an excellent option to signal a visual transition in landscapes. “An edging of groundcover can say you’ve now entered the formal section of the yard, or you’ve entered the shade garden,” observes Jentz. “It can indicate a boundary or a demarcation for a new garden room. You can use plants to establish areas for different uses like the vegetable patch, a meditation space, or the dog run.” Think about using different groundcovers for themed gardens like a white garden or the new trend of using darkpurple foliage. They can help set a mood for the area, be it a riotous perennial garden that requires a green matrix to hold it together or a serene retreat with many textures of foliage. You can also unite collections of plants with groundcovers such as a Japanese maple collection or the client’s prized roses. “One of the most interesting uses I’ve seen recently was at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum,” reports Jentz. “They underplanted roses with creeping thyme to replace traditional mulch. It kept the rabbits away and was a soft, pretty foliage foil for the rose bushes.”

Solving Problems with Plants

“I’m on the East Coast, and one of the biggest complaints people have is mowing a slope,” says

Spring|2021 21|

Carpeting the Ground

Jentz. “From pushing a mower up a hill and then not being able to control it coming down to tipping accidents in riding mowers, people hate mowing slopes. Then add mower maintenance, and it’s no wonder turf replacement is in demand.” Although Midwestern slopes may be more subtle, plenty of sites have tricky areas that make maintaining turf a risky endeavor. Converting a sloped area to plants provides layers of beauty, plus a way to upsell design services and installation projects. The client has all the benefits of a garden and none of the hassle of mowing, and you don’t have the anxiety of your crews struggling with the space.

Groundcovers can be terrific problem-solvers for areas where lawn just won’t thrive. From the deep shade of maple trees and building overhangs to the hot sun of that stretch of ground between two driveways, there’s a groundcover that will happily grow. “Turfgrass is just not the right plant for the right place all the time,” explains Jentz. “An area might be too shady, too wet, too dry, or too sunny. The grass is always going to be struggling. And then the client is investing money again and again trying to get the grass to grow to match the rest of the property. It’s probably time to stop and think about whether that section doesn’t need to be turfgrass.”

One of the most challenging design requirements to achieve is keeping a seamless look from sun to shade. If you’re planting a front landscape with mature trees and want

a ground layer that looks good in full sun to full shade, take a look at the sedges (Carex). Both native and non-native sedges are highly adaptable with a wide range of species and varieties. “Sedges give you a way to incorporate native plants into designs,” explains Jentz. “There are such beautiful choices including Penn sedge which will grow nearly anywhere. They give you a soft grassy texture that can link together those tricky sun to shade areas. Plus, they green up early in the spring and provide seeds for songbirds.”

Less Maintenance, More Plants

“There’s no such thing as no maintenance, of course. Even concrete needs to be swept once in a while and monitored for damage,” says Jentz. “I’ve found that the number-one reason someone requests groundcovers is to lower their maintenance. They’re sick and tired of mowing, especially on a slope, or constantly having to mulch.” The lawn replacement movement is also gathering speed as people respond to trends focused on being more environmentally friendly or sustainable.

“I always say that your maintenance with groundcovers is on the front end, meaning the first few years of establishment,” reports Jentz. “You’re going to have to weed and water and nurture it while it fills in. Try some shredded leaves or a light compost in the bare areas to keep down most

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of the weeds while the new plants grow and establish.”

As with most perennials, weed management is key in the first three years as new plants grow roots and begin to spread. Once they’re established, depending on the type of plant, a yearly haircut in the spring with a string trimmer can tidy up the area. This is particularly effective on lilyturf, taller sedges, and some of the traditional evergreen plants like wintercreeper. Many of the broadleaf perennials like geranium, ginger, sedum, and lamium don’t even need a cleanup. If you’ve got a site with a heavy tree canopy that sheds a lot of leaves, like maples and oaks, Jentz has recommendations for ‘leaf-swallowing’ selections that won’t get smothered. Check out hosta, epimedium, ferns, Solomon’s seal, and hellebore, which all thrive with fallen leaves.

There really is a groundcover for every situation! Jentz tackles 40 different plants in her book, but of course, there are more. “Be creative” urges Jentz. “Most spreading perennials can act as groundcovers and bring additional layers of beauty to gardens.” From groundcover roses to violets, clover, and even prickly pear cactus, these versatile plants will offer years of pleasure, benefit pollinators, and give your landscape designs added richness with minimal maintenance.

Spring|2024 23|

Top Five Ground Covers for Shade

Mosses (Hynum spp.)

Sun: part shade to full shade

Water: moist

Height: about 2 inches

Speed: slow to moderate

Foot traffic: light

Foliage: saturated green with rich carpet-like texture

Flower: n/a

Notes: “There are mosses that are spreaders and ones that are more clumping,” said Jentz. “I just love that bright green in

Sun: part shade to full shade

Water: average to drought tolerant

Height: 6 to 10 inches

Speed: slow to moderate

Foot traffic: n/a

Foliage: small, elongated heart-shaped leaves emerge bronzy, turn green, and then back to rich reddish-purple in the fall

Flower: tiny dainty flowers appear in early spring on wiry stems in a range of colors including yellow, pink, orange, and purple

Notes: “Epimedium is excellent under big mature trees,” commented Jentz. “It can fill in beautifully, swallow fallen leaves easily, and can handle those dry shade conditions.”

Sedges (Carex spp.)

Sun: part shade to full shade

Water: wet to drought tolerant, depending on species

Height: 6 to 18 inches, depending on species

Speed: moderate

Foot traffic: light

Foliage: elegant slim blades of grass-like leaves tend to be cascading under interesting spring seedheads

Flower: native species is best identified by their distinctive small flowers that bloom in spring

Notes: “From tough natives to new introductions out of Ireland, there’s a sedge for every spot,” reported Jentz. “The EverColor® series is just gorgeous with their variegated or chartreuse foliage.”

Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum spp.)

Sun: part shade to full shade

Water: average to drought tolerant

Height: 4 inches up to 3 feet, depending on species and cultivar

Speed: moderate

Foliage: The architectural arching stems make a statement in the shade garden, but don’t forget the miniature varieties that are only a few inches. They have a distinctive charm and readily fill an area.

Flower: creamy white pendulous flowers in spring that hummingbirds visit

Notes: “Solomon’s seal is a tough-as-nails graceful perennial that does beautifully under trees,” said Jentz. “It pairs well with spring bulbs as it will cover their withering foliage.” pro|grow|news |24

Siberian Bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla)

Sun: part shade to full shade

Water: average to moist well-drained

Height: 12 to 16 inches

Speed: slow

Foot traffic: n/a

Foliage: the large heart-shaped leaves give soft mounds of foliage texture in shades of green, silver, and white variegated

Flower: cheerful blue forget-me-not flowers in spring

Notes: “I really like ‘Frostbite’ for a nice silvery texture in shade,” commented Jentz. “All of the Brunnera are workhorse plants for shade that are easy-going and deliver valuable contrast with ferns and sedges.”

25| Spring|2024

Top Five Ground Covers for Sun

Sedges (Carex spp.)

Sun: full sun to part shade

Water: wet to drought tolerant, depending on species

Height: 8 to 18 inches

Speed: moderate

Foot traffic: light

Foliage: pure green grassy foliage that gives a delicate texture to garden spaces

Flower: interesting flowers in early spring become fun and funky seedheads that birds seek out

Notes: “There are a long list of native sedges for sun,” observed Jentz. “One of my favorites that goes sun to shade is Carex pensylvanica but look for prairie species that make a great matrix layer.”

Clover (Trifolium repens)

Sun: full sun to part shade

Water: average to moist well-drained

Height: 4 to 6 inches

Speed: moderate

Foot traffic: moderate to heavy

Foliage: three-leaf green foliage that is mat-forming

Flower: globular small white flowers in May are beloved by bees

Notes: “White clover can be a handy lawn substitute,” reported Jentz. “You can interplant it in a lawn, it handles heavy foot traffic, and pollinators love it.”

Angelina Stonecrop (Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’)

Sun: full sun

Water: average to dry

Height: 4 inches

Speed: moderate to rapid

Foot traffic: occasional

Foliage: needle-like lime green succulent leaves turn shades of orange in the fall

Flower: small clusters of yellow flowers in June to August attract pollinators

Notes: “Angelina is a good problem-solver for a hot, dry site,” said Jentz. “It forms a nice mat of foliage and if a piece breaks off, place it on the soil surface and it will root readily.”

Creeping Phlox (Phlox stolonifera)

Sun: full sun to part shade

Water: average to well-draining

Height: 6 to 8 inches

Speed: moderate

Foot traffic: moderate

Foliage: oblong to oval green leaves form a dense mat of intertwining stems

Flower: upright stems hold clusters of fragrant tubular flowers in shades of pink, lavender, blue, and purple from May to June, attracting pollinators, especially butterflies

Notes: “If you give creeping phlox a light shear, it will do a sporadic rebloom that’s quite nice,” commented Jentz. “It does not tolerate being covered in leaves or mulch, however.”

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Creeping Thyme (Thymus praecox)

Sun: full sun to part shade

Water: average to dry

Height: 3 inches or less

Speed: moderate

Foot traffic: moderate to heavy

Foliage: tiny green leaves are deliciously fragrant when bruised and may be more gray-green or variegated, depending on cultivar

Flower: tiny clusters of flowers in shades of pink to purple attract bees

Notes: “Thyme is so appropriate in a vegetable garden along a path,” said Jentz. “It thrives in sandy, rocky soils, is salt tolerant, and semi-evergreen. Try it in tricky spots like around a mailbox.”

27| Spring|2024
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12 Native Plants to Know and Grow

As demand for native plants steadily increases, it’s important to have more selections in our plant palettes to meet the needs of clients. From passionate homeowners to concerned commercial property managers to municipalities and state entities, native plants are requested and required in many landscape designs. We spoke with Dave Neu, owner at NatureSpace LLC about some of his favorite picks in woody plants. Neu has more than 35 years of experience working with native plants and wildlife and is a resource for conservation restoration and management.

“In many cases, you can easily substitute native plants, for non-native selections,” recommended Neu. “There are

Five Fantastic Trees

Asimina triloba or Pawpaw

Zone: 5 to 9

Sun: full sun to part shade

Water: average to wet

Size: 15 to 25 feet high and wide

Bark: smooth grey

Flower: small deep-burgundy fleshy flowers in April

Fruit: plump yellow-green edible fruits that taste like banana custard

Fall Color: clear golden-yellow

Substitute It For: Cornelian cherry dogwood, Persian ironwood, privet

Why We Love It: “The tropical leaves are very unique,” said Neu, “and the fruit is delicious.” Pawpaw has huge leaves that give it a layered, coarse texture unusual in the landscape. In optimum conditions it will slowly sucker, but typically is a single stem. You may have to guard against possums and racoons enjoying the fruit, but the battle will be worth it. Pawpaws are also larval hosts for pawpaw sphinx moths and zebra swallowtail butterflies.

so many options in natives that have the same or similar growth texture, or bloom time. Plus, there’s a native plant for just about every soil moisture gradient there is.”

While there are a bevy of native perennials to choose from, sometimes we overlook the broad array of trees and shrubs that grace our prairies, woods, and wetlands. Providing not only pretty flowers, these hardy species also support a wide range of wildlife, offer spectacular fall color, and can thrive in some tricky situations. “Perhaps the best selling point to clients is pollinators,” commented Neu. “I’m finding folks more and more interested in helping out our wildlife.”

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29| Spring|2024 *Offer valid on new small (Compact Track Loaders, Compact Wheel Loaders, Micro/Mini Excavators, Skid Steer Loaders) and compact (Backhoe Loaders, Telehandlers, Small Track Type Tractors, Small Wheel Loaders) Cat machines sold by participating Cat dealers to customers in the USA or Canada. Purchase and delivery must occur during offer period. Offer subject to machine availability and credit approval by Cat Financial. Not all customers will qualify. Length of contract is limited. 0% offers may vary by model and dealer. Payments are based on term length. Payments do not include taxes, freight, set-up, delivery, document fees, inspections, additional options, or attachments. The credit of up to $500 USD can only be applied toward the purchase of a qualifying Cat Customer Value Agreement (CVA) or qualifying Equipment Protection Plan (EPP). Amount of the credit cannot exceed the price of qualifying CVA or EPP. CVA must include 1-year Preventative Maintenance Parts Kit, TA1 annual Inspection, signed CVA contract, and Product Link. Amount of credit towards CVA or EPP is the same for all models. In some areas, EPP might be sold separately from the CVA. Offer may change without prior notice and cannot be combined with any other offers. Additional terms and conditions may apply. Contact your Cat dealer for details. © 2022 Caterpillar. All Rights Reserved. CAT, CATERPILLAR, LET’S DO THE WORK, their respective logos, “Caterpillar Corporate Yellow”, the “Power Edge” and Cat “Modern Hex” trade dress as well as corporate and product identity used herein, are trademarks of Caterpillar and may not be used without permission. / Unlike the quality and dependability of Cat ® equipment, this offer won’t last a lifetime. It’s high time you connect with your local Cat dealer for huge savings and an unbeatable Protection Package. Good things come to those who wait. act now . TRIED & TRUE 0 PERCENT.* 0 DOWN. 0 HASSLE. PERFORMANCE + UP TO $500 USD TOWARDS A PROTECTION PACKAGE* Milford 100 Quarry Drive ( 508)634-3400 North Reading 84 Concord Street ( 978)276-2400 Wareham 14 Kendrick Road ( 508)291-1200 Call your sales representative or nearest location.

Carpinus caroliniana or Blue Beech, Musclewood, American Hornbeam

Zone: 3 to 9

Sun: full sun to full shade

Water: average to moist

Size: 25 to 35 feet high and wide

Bark: pale-grey elegant fluted smooth bark reminiscent of beech

Fruit: 3-inch papery winged nutlets resembling chandeliers that shatter and disappear in winter

Fall Color: orange to fiery-red

Substitute It For: Japanese tree lilac, crabapple, hedge maple, Newport plum

Why We Love It: Flexibility! This lovely understory native tree tolerates everything from full sun to full shade and wet to dry soils. Its rounded shape and horizontal branching habit can be limbed up or allowed to branch to the ground. “It’s slow growing, but the bark is distinctive,” commented Neu. The fiery fall color is also a plus. It is a larval host to several moths as well as tiger swallowtail butterflies. Songbirds devour the seeds.

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Cornus alternifolia or Pagoda Dogwood

Zone: 3 to 7

Sun: full sun to part shade

Water: average to moist, well-drained

Size: 15 to 25 feet high; 20 to 30 feet wide

Bark: smooth brown

Flower: flattened cymes of creamy-white fragrant flowers in June

Fruit: deep-blue berries favored by birds

Fall Color: deep-red to magenta

Substitute It For: burning bush, Japanese maple, magnolia

Why We Love It: “I love their elegant shape,” reported Neu. “With open horizontal branching, pagoda dogwood is beautiful in flower and fall color.” Happiest as an understory tree, pagoda dogwoods are a statement specimen tree that develop their architecture with a little patience. Shorttongued bees seek out the flowers, including one specialist. Several moth species use it as a larval host as well as spring/ summer azure butterflies.

31| Spring|2024
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Quercus bicolor or swamp white oak

Zone: 3 to 8

Sun: full sun

Water: average to wet

Size: 50 to 60 feet high and wide

Bark: attractive flaky bark when young matures to deep fissures

Fruit: handsome small acorn

Fall Color: yellowish-brown, but leaves are marcescent and remain on the tree until spring

Substitute It For: Norway maple, littleleaf linden, Turkish filbert

Why We Love It: “They’re so versatile,” commented Neu. “I love that about them. The common name is really a misnomer as this oak tolerates drought as well as wet conditions. You can pretty much plant them anywhere as long as it’s sunny.” Swamp white oak is a fast-growing tree that can easily put on two feet a year. As with all oaks, it is a larval host of about 500 species of butterflies and moths. We are Better Together with you! Your Prides Corner team is focused every day on making your life easier and your business more successful PEOPLE PARTNERSHIPS |32 pro|grow|news

Tilia americana or American Linden, Basswood

Zone: 2 to 8

Sun: full sun to part shade

Water: average to moist well-drained

Size: 50 to 80 feet high; 30 to 50 feet wide

Bark: pale in youth, becoming darker and more ridged with age

Flower: clusters of creamy-yellow deeply fragrant flowers in June

Fruit: small nutlets attached to bracts

Fall Color: yellow

Substitute It For: Littleleaf linden, Norway maple, ornamental pear

Why We Love It: This fast-growing large native linden will tolerate drought and clay soil. “The fragrance in bloom is fantastic,” said Neu. “You’ll have every bee in the neighborhood.” Linden honey is a prized delicacy and the flowers have also been used for tea. Distinctly pyramidal in shape, American linden is the larval host to a long list of moths.


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33| Spring|2024

Seven Spectacular Shrubs

Cephalanthus occidentalis or Buttonbush

Zone: 5 to 9

Sun: full sun to part shade

Water: moist to wet

Size: 5 to 10 feet high; 4 to 7 feet wide

Flower: round fragrant white flowers bloom in June

Fruit: flowers mature into attractive reddish nutlets favored by birds

Substitute It For: dogwood, willow, privet

Why We Love It: Buttonbush is happiest with wet feet, making it a great option for rain gardens, swales, and that pesky damp corner. It’s also a top-notch pollinator attractor. “In flower, it’s covered with tiny bees, syrphid flies, wasps, just everything,” observed Neu. It’s also the larval host for buttonbush sphinx moths.

Corylus americana or American Hazelnut

Zone: 4 to 9

Sun: full sun to part shade

Water: average to moist

Size: 8 to 10 feet high and suckering

Flower: elegant pendulous greenish-yellow catkins in early spring

Fruit: small, tasty edible nuts encased in leafy bracts

Fall Color: shades of yellow, orange, and peach

Substitute It For: burning bush, privet, hedge cotoneaster

Why We Love It: “It can be a wonderful hedge,” commented Neu. “The fall color is beautiful and maybe someday I’ll beat the squirrels to the nuts.” American hazelnut is a robust suckering shrub that can quickly fill a space. It thrives with shearing and renewal pruning for those seeking a more formal appearance. The early spring catkins are decorative, but the fall color with a kaleidoscope of yellow and orange makes this plant worth including in a plan. It’s also a larval host for a long list of moths.

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Diervilla lonicera or Bush Honeysuckle

Zone: 3 to 7

Sun: full sun to part shade, tolerates full shade

Water: average to drought tolerant

Size: 3 to 4 feet high and wide

Flower: pretty clusters of sulfur-yellow flowers in July through August

Fall Color: shades of red to orange to burgundy

Substitute It For: burning bush, barberry, Japanese spirea

Why We Love It: “The bees and pollinators love the flowers,” said Neu. “The shrubs will arch over and knit together at around 4 feet, giving you a beautiful mass. They’re incredibly tough. I’ve seen them happy in sand to clay and everything in between.” Diervilla is a beautiful workhorse for dry shade that gives you lovely fall color and flowers. Plus, it’s a larval host to snowberry clearwing and gray scoopwing moths.

35| Spring|2024

Hypericum kalmianum or Kalm’s St. John’s Wort

Zone: 4 to 7

Sun: full sun to part shade

Water: average to wet

Size: 2 to 3 feet high and wide

Flower: brilliant yellow pompom flowers in July through August beloved by bees

Fruit: mahogany capsules that persist over the winter

Fall Color: shades of red and mahogany

Substitute It For: Japanese spirea, barberry, weigela

Why We Love It: With bright sunny flowers and short stature, St. John’s wort is a pretty native addition to beds and foundation plantings. “It’s so underutilized,” commented Neu. “It fits in small spaces and is very adaptable to soils, particularly moist ones.” It is the larval host to gray half-spot, common pug, and wavy-lined emerald moths.

Lindera benzoin or Spicebush

Zone: 4 to 9

Sun: full sun to part shade

Water: average to moist, well-drained

Size: 6 to 8 feet high and wide

Flower: small clusters of fragrant lemon-yellow flowers in March or April

Fruit: bright red berries enjoyed by birds

Fall Color: golden yellow

Substitute It For: hedge cotoneaster, burning bush, Cornelian cherry dogwood

Why We Love It: Spicebush can be a good alternative for viburnum for those dealing with viburnum leaf beetle. It also heralds spring with its fragrant small flowers. “Every plant part is fragrant when crushed,” reported Neu. “It’s adaptable and if you plant more than one, you’ll get the nice red berries birds love.” Spicebush is the larval host for spicebush swallowtail butterfly as well as promethea and tulip tree beauty moths.

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Viburnum prunifolium or blackhaw viburnum

Zone: 3 to 9

Sun: full sun to full shade

Water: average to dry

Size: 12 to 15 feet high; 6 to 12 feet wide

Flower: flat white flower clusters in May beloved by pollinators

Fruit: dark blue berry-like drupes enjoyed by wildlife

Fall Color: red-burgundy

Substitute It For: burning bush, lilac, kousa dogwood

Why We Love It: Blackhaw viburnum is flexible. From sun to shade, average to dry soils, this large shrub handles it all. “It gets big, but you can prune it for a hedge or train it into a small tree,” said Neu. “It’s fall color is really outstanding.” More resistant to viburnum leaf beetle than arrowwood, blackhaw also features dark blue berries or haws that attract birds. Like all the native viburnums, it’s a larval host to spring/summer azure butterflies and a long list of moths.

Sambucus canadensis or Elderberry

Zone: 3 to 9

Sun: full sun to part shade

Water: average to wet

Size: 5 to 10 feet high and wide, sometimes suckering

Bark: clean brown with lenticels

Flower: huge 10-inch flat white flowers in June beloved by pollinators

Fruit: large clusters of black edible berries

Fall Color: yellow

Substitute It For: privet, burning bush, hedge cotoneaster

Why We Love It: If you need a large, fast-growing shrub for screening, elderberry is a candidate. The reward is prolific berries. “I made syrup from mine last year,” commented Neu. “The berries are so good for you! Plus, the small pollinators seek out the huge flowers.” Elderberry also tolerates wet feet and can be perfect for a wet corner to anchor a design.

37| Spring|2024

Technologies for Turfgrass Management: Current Trends and Future Applications

Drones. GPS. Satellites. Technology is becoming an important part of turfgrass management. Chase Straw PhD, assistant professor of turfgrass science in Texas A&M University’s Soil and Crop Sciences department, sees the future of turf management through the high-tech equipment, some now in use and some not ready for prime time.

There is one, however, that Straw endorses as ready, waiting, and proven: a soil moisture sensor. “If anybody is hesitant about technology, one piece to look at is a soil moisture sensor,” he says. “It’s beneficial and pretty affordable.”

They range from handheld to stationary to a version that is mounted on the back of a riding mower. The latter, however, is fairly new, expensive, and right now only used at the higher end golf courses, says Straw.

Straw’s focus is on golf courses and sports fields, because his primary research is in those areas. Though he predicts that the technology he referenced will make its way to the residential and commercial markets.

He holds a 70% research, 30% teaching appointment at Texas A&M University, concentrating on precision turfgrass management. Straw also teaches undergraduate courses in turfgrass management systems, turfgrass maintenance, and professional development in turfgrass science, as well as overseeing undergraduate research. Straw says, “There is a typical process people go through when new technology comes out: expectations shoot up. Then users ask themselves, ‘What do I do with it?’ This is followed by a trough of disillusionment and finally a slope of enlightenment.”

“Can we use it to make meaningful management changes?” users ask. They study it, experiment and finally there is a plateau of productivity.

When drones first came on the scene, turfgrass managers were, like many others, excited to try them out. They quickly realized that there were some hidden costs, such as, “what do I do with it?” local and other regulations, necessary training to understand the data the drones were able to collect, and the ability or inability of the computers they had to handle and manipulate the imaging they provided. Gradually, with research, trial and error, and networking, drones became a part of their profession.

At its best, technology introduces innovative and efficient ways to manage turfgrass, Straw says. Technology can improve ROI (return on investment) for various management tech-

niques and increase the safety of those working in the area. He pointed to the robotic mower, now used by many turfgrass managers and landscape contractors. “It was a game changer,” he says. There now are robotic painters in use on sports fields, as well. And, here, says Straw, is where we are. Technology can be beneficial, but, he says, “It depends on how we use it.”

Soil moisture sensors, for instance, can pinpoint areas that need more or less irrigation, which serves to conserve water.

Technology can help identify areas that are stressed from pests, weeds, high impact use, and too little water. Spotting these zones and keeping detailed records can document trends. This information can be used to justify new equipment, spraying and other work when speaking with decision makers. “Turf grass managers know why an area is stressed, but they can compile maps and statistics to justify why they need to treat it or do other kinds of work,” says Straw.

The simplest form of documenting these areas is a handdrawn map. This, however, takes time — often hours in the case of a golf course — requiring the turfgrass manager to walk the property. However, technology, such as drones or even GPS locators attached to the backs of riding mowers, can draw much more detailed maps, identifying microclimates, allowing for site specific work or irrigation.

Straw points to golf course research he did while at the University of Minnesota. Without the use of technology, it took a lot of time to walk the golf courses and identify areas that needed work or pesticide applications and irrigation or, conversely, where less irrigation was needed. Using soil moistures sensors allowed for precision irrigation, which, in turn, improved playability, according to the golfers who regularly played the courses in question.

Even the PGA Tour agronomist got into the act, using high-tech soil moisture sensors to modify irrigation on the fairways, irrigating to specific soil moisture goals. Walking the courses with a handheld soil moisture sensor was labor intensive. According to Straw, it took about six hours.

Using a more high-tech sensor, however, took less time and allowed them to adjust the irrigation, making the players happier.

A new Toro Precision Turf Assessment Trailer (PrecisionSense™ PS6000), measures soil moisture, compaction, and NDVI (normalized difference vegetation index — or how green is your grass?). It is towed behind a riding mower

|38 pro|grow|news

and takes a measurement every eight feet. “There are only four in the country, two at research facilities and two in California,” says Straw. It is, however, an indication of what is coming.

Microwave technology that can be affixed to the back of a mower takes measurements and develops a soil moisture map during routine mowing. “This is exciting,” says Straw. “It will cut back on data collection.”

And then there is satellite technology that also can map turfgrass. The resolution is not yet what it could be, he says. “A lot of work needs to be done,” but the potential is there.

Drones fitted with multispectral RGB and infrared cameras also can map areas with precision, giving turfgrass managers NDVI indexes the higher and denser the green turf canopy, and the lower the more stressed. “This allows turfgrass managers to identify high and low areas of stress,” says Straw.

This will reduce the use of fertilizers and pesticides by allowing turfgrass managers to only treat areas that need it and will help managers justify treatments to decision makers.

These technologies also bring turfgrass management into the area of AI (artificial intelligence). “Using AI and machine learning on raw imaging, we can teach it to identify pests, so we can do specific fungicide applications, reducing the amount of fungicide needed,” says Straw. “Fungicide is expensive.”

Models also can be trained to differentiate between weeds and turfgrass early in their life cycles. The question, says Straw, is how early? “The idea is site specific applications,” he says.

There also is such a thing as a GPS sprayer with individual nozzle controls. Download the maps generated by drones or other technology and you can spray with minimal overlapping. Much like robotic mowers, these allow for setting

boundaries and variable rate applications. Using autosteer and GPS significantly reduces overlapping, he says.

Working with the USDA, Straw currently is testing remotely piloted aerial application systems. Essentially, they are spray drones with three-to-four-gallon tanks. While Straw thinks they have promise, researchers do need to solve the problem of drift. In other words, wind can carry the droplets outside of the spray zone.

Using potted plants, they also are measuring control. Potted plants, says Straw, make it easier to measure.

“I do think there is a lot of opportunity,” says Straw.

In general, Straw recommends doing your homework before jumping into any technology. Consult researchers. Ask yourself how you want to use it. “There is a lot of potential.”

39| Spring|2024 • SHADE TREES • BROADLEAFS • FLOWERING Current availability is posted on our website (PW: pni2024) Contact our office to be added to the weekly availability email list. GROWING FOR OVER 40 YEARS P: 207-499-2994 F: 207-499-2912 • Mailing Address: 24 Buzzell Rd, Biddeford ME 04005 Physical Address: 291 Waterhouse Rd, Dayton ME 04005 Office Address: 313 Waterhouse Rd, Dayton ME 04005 • EVERGREENS • PERENNIALS & GRASSES • NATIVE & WETLAND

Safety Culture Keep Crews Safe with These Spring

Spring is coming and commercial landscape contractors are gearing up for their busy season. The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), an international trade association representing outdoor power equipment, small engine, utility vehicle, golf car,, and personal transport vehicle manufacturers and suppliers, reminds landscapers to keep safety in mind as they head outside.

“Before you send your crews out to use a mower, trimmer, blower, power washer, chainsaw, pruner, portable generator or other piece of outdoor power equipment this season, it’s important they think safety first,” said Kris Kiser, president of OPEI. “Landscape companies have a busy season ahead, but they also need to take the time to do maintenance to ensure their equipment operates safely and is ready to get the job done all season long.”

Here are tips to help ensure landscape crews are safe

Read the owner’s manual. Each crew member should be reminded to follow all guidelines for the outdoor power equipment and familiarize themselves with the controls. Review how to shut on, shut off, and use the equipment safely — especially with new team members. Manuals are available online and in many languages to ensure everyone is working from the same set of instructions.

Inspect equipment. Check the air filter, oil level, and the gasoline tank. Also check for loose belts and missing or damaged parts. Ensure all safety guards are in place. Replace any parts needed or take the equipment to a qualified service representative for servicing. If using electric equipment, make sure batteries are in good working order and not cracked or damaged.

Make sure all safety features are operable. Do not disable or modify manufacturer-installed safety equipment. Be sure that you review this with your work crews and check equipment when it returns from a work site.

Review equipment with your work crews before the season gets rolling. Make sure all your workers understand the safety features of the equipment they are using and that they are following manufacturer guidelines and on-product messages for safe operation. Do spot safety checks on job sites, and incorporate safety checks into your morning roll-out.

Protect your power by only using E10 or less fuel in gasoline-powered outdoor power equipment. With today’s higher ethanol-content fuels, most manufacturers are recommending a fuel stabilizer be used, especially if you don’t use up all the

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Lawn Equipment Tips

gas purchased right away. Some gas stations may offer 15 percent ethanol (E15) gas or higher ethanol fuel blends, but any fuel that has more than 10% ethanol can damage, and is illegal to use, in small engine equipment not designed for it.

Store fuel safely. Label your fuel can with the date of purchase and ethanol content of the fuel. Never put old gas in the outdoor power equipment. If you don’t know the date of purchase, dispose safely of the fuel in the can and buy fresh fuel. Always store fuel out of the reach of children or pets and in approved containers. Fuel should never sit in the gas tank for more than 30 days as it may cause starting or running problems or damage the equipment.

For battery-powered equipment, recharge your equipment only with the charger specified by the manufacturer. A charger that is suitable for one type of battery pack may create a risk of fire when used with another battery pack. Follow all charging instructions and do not charge the battery pack or tool outside the temperature range specified in the instructions.

Store batteries safely. When the battery pack is not in use, keep it away from other metal objects, like paper clips, coins, keys, nails, screws or other small metal items that can make a connection from one terminal to another. Storing the battery terminals together may cause burns or a fire.

Clean your equipment and store it in a dry place. Remove any dirt, oil, or grass. Clean equipment will run more efficiently and last longer. Never store your equipment in a place that is damp or wet.

To learn more, go to For further information on safe fueling, go to

About OPEI

OPEI is an international trade association representing manufacturers and suppliers of power equipment, small engines, battery power systems, portable generators, utility and personal transport vehicles, and golf cars. OPEI is the advocacy voice of the industry, and a recognized Standards Development Organization for the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and active internationally through the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) in the development of safety and performance standards. OPEI owns Equip Exposition, the international landscape, outdoor living, and equipment exposition, and administers the TurfMutt Foundation, which directs the environmental education program, TurfMutt. OPEI-Canada represents members on a host of issues, including recycling, emissions and other regulatory developments across the Canadian provinces.

41| Spring|2024

Preventing Nursery Injuries Safety Culture

As a senior safety management consultant at SAIF, a not-for profit workers’ compensation insurance company in Oregon, I work with policyholders every day to assess their workplace safety and offer guidance on how to make workers safer on the job. I get to spend a lot of time with nurseries in the Willamette Valley and know how risky the work can be. The good news is, high-risk injuries can be prevented.

We looked at claims data from the past five years to uncover the five most dangerous workplace injuries in nurseries. We analyzed the most expensive claims, as a high cost is generally associated with a longer recovery period and more time-loss days, indicating more severe injuries.

Sprains and Strains

The most common claim SAIF received for nurseries was for sprains or strains, with more than 800 claims. These injuries are often caused by lifting equipment, plant materials, moving containers in the fields, or lifting products into racking systems.

To prevent these injuries, bring items up to elbow height and use mechanical tools such as forklifts where possible. When mechanical tools are not available it’s critical that your employees use safe lifting techniques. This includes keeping their elbows in close when they lift and bending with their knees.

When you’re in a hurry, it’s easy to just lean over to grab things in a poor pos- ture, but that can easily cause an injury. It’s important that you teach your employees how to lift heavy items safely.

Slips, Trips, and Falls

SAIF received more than 500 claims related to slips, trips, or falls, costing $8.5 million. The most severe of these are falls from an elevation of four feet or more. Typically, this includes ladders but, for some nurseries, it also includes loading docks.

To prevent falls, make sure your loading dock is chained and guarded. When a vehicle comes up to the dock, make sure the sides are protected so people can’t fall off.

It’s important to look for, and correct, work surfaces that may increase the likelihood of a slip or fall. It’s important to address standing water, uneven ground that can be leveled, and traction on footwear.

Keep hoses and other trip hazards out of walkways where possible. There are many methods for avoiding hoses in walkways, such as installing and using hose reels, raising hoses above walking surfaces, or investing in automatic systems that reduce the need for hoses.

If your employees work with ladders, make sure they know the right ladder to use for each job and have that ladder available and close by. Not all ladders are created equal for all tasks and a variety of ladder types may be needed. Always use three points of contact to maximize stability, by using two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand on the ladder. We have several resources at Ladders to help with talking points like ladder selection, set-up, storage, and maintenance.

|42 pro|grow|news

Being Struck

Another common incident in a nurs- ery is getting struck by something during work. This could be from tools in the workspace, moving equipment, or another employee moving things nearby. While there is a lot happening at any given time, it’s important to take time to analyze hazard potential and keep the workspace as clear as possible. The heavier the equipment, the higher potential for a more serious injury.

Motor Vehicles

From tractors to ATVs, golf carts to forklifts, nurseries use many motor vehicles. While injuries from motor vehicles are less common than the others we’ve looked at, they tend to be among the most severe (second only to falls from elevation). When you’re working with a motor vehicle, pay attention to blind corners where co-workers may be entering the path. Take special care when crossing or traveling on busy roads and take time to drive at safe speeds, especially over uneven surfaces and hillsides. Make sure your employees are trained on proper tractor and forklift use and consider additional training and accountability for all drivers

Cuts and Punctures

With pruning scissors and shears, cuts and punctures are a common nursery injury. Plants can be sharp, too! Employees should know when, where and why proper personal protective equipment (PPE) like gloves and eyewear are required. Strategies like offering variety in type and choice of design can help PPE use become consistent along with support and modeling of the PPE by leadership. Care is needed when new tools such as electric or automated pruners are introduced, as new tools can also introduce new hazards. Review where additional guarding, training, or PPE may be needed anytime new equipment is added.


It’s important to think about your employees’ well-being as part of your safety program. For example, as people get into production mode, it’s even more important to pay attention to things like fatigue and ensuring your employees are getting good sleep.

A Five-Step Approach To Worker Well-Being

The well-being of employees is a crucial part of a successful business, but achieving worker well-being is more complicated. What if we could boil it down to five easy steps?

It’s important to think about your employees’ well-being as part of your safety program.

SAIF, in collaboration with the Center for Work, Health, and Well-being at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, has created a simple five-step approach that merges safety, health, and well-being through organizational, environmental, and individual perspectives resulting in an integrated set of solutions.

The process is designed to be useful to all types and sizes of businesses. Begin the process with an exploration of your own business and to engage workers by asking questions. Then you can hit the ground running:

1. Identify: Build a strong team with clear direction and leadership support to positively impact workplace well-being.

2. Engage: Engage your workforce and provide opportunities to share experiences, perspectives, and ideas for improvement of their working conditions.

3. Design: What are you going to do, how will you do it, and what will success look like?

4. Action: Do the things you’ve planned. What has worked well in the past? What are possible barriers that have not been addressed? Start small, stay focused, and make sure to track your progress.

In addition, nurseries require a lot of detailed work, so it’s important for workers to take micro-breaks. Even doing something different for 30-60 seconds will give the muscles and mind some time to recover.

You can find more information about workplace safety and health, including talking points for your safety committees, free posters, and trainings, at SAIF. com.

5. Review: Review your work and the lessons you’ve learned so you can continue to improve.

You can learn all about the five steps, watch trainings and videos, and download materials at The resources are also available in Spanish at

43| Spring|2024


Acorn Tree and Landscape .......................... 47

American National ...........................................7

Amherst Nurseries .........................................44

Ballard Truck Center ......................................25

Bigelow Nursery ............................................35

Cavicchio Landscape Supplies, Inc. ..............9

Farm Credit East ...........................................33

Ideal Concrete Block ........................................2

Medford Nursery ...........................................31

Millican Nurseries LLC.....................................11

Milton Cat ......................................................29

New England Wetland Plants .......................27

Before you go — A final taste of spring.

Northeast Nursery ........................................48

Northern Nurseries .......................................31


Pierson Nurseries, Inc. ..................................39

Prides Corner Farm ........................................32

Pro Bark ...........................................................15

Read Custom Soils ........................................30

Savage Farms, Inc. ........................................35

Service First Processing .................................17

Sylvan Nursery ...............................................27

Vermont Mulch ...............................................23

We Find Plants ................................................19

Weston Nurseries

.............................................5 pro|grow|news

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My Favorite Plant

Cephalotaxus harringtonia ‘Fastigiata’ Japanese Plum Yew

Reasons This Plant Shines

Great upright element to add to designs. Will do well in sun and shade, which is unusual for needled evergreens, so it does well in gardens that have both sunny areas and shady areas and can unify the design. It is a dense shrub with dark green glossy needles and displays lighter green new growth. Can be used as a hedge or topiary, as well as an accent plant. Secrets to success would be to be sure not to over water these plants. They do like moist soil but not soggy. Once they are established they will tolerate extended dry periods. Fertilize yearly. They are deer resistant and heat tolerant. Quite low maintenance.

Japanese plum yews originated in Japan. They are dioecious so they need both male and female plants to produce their edible plums. The name Cephalotaxus is from Greek — kephale meaning ‘head’ and Taxus meaning ‘Yew’. (They are not true yews.)They are named thus because the flowering structures are tight clusters and resemble a head and the needles resemble a yew. They contain anti-cancer compounds.

Plant Culture

Type: Shrub

Exposure: Part sun to full shade evergreen

Size: 8—10 feet in height and 3—5 feet wide

Hardiness Zone: 6 to 9

Soil: Moist, sandy, well drained

Growth Rate: Slow pro|grow|news |46
Harvard, MA • Tel: 978.635.0409 • Fax: 978.635.9840 •
Northeast Greenhouse & Nursery Supply Northeast Arbor Supply Northeast Golf & Turf Supply Northeast Masonry Supply Northeast Lighting Supply Northeast Turf & Irrigation Supply For 38 Years, Northeast Nursery has supplied landscapers and homeowners with the nest bulk goods, plant materials, and gardening supplies that the industry has to o er. With unparalleled product selection and industry-leading expertise, our team is poised to help with your next landscaping project. Learn more about our products and services at: Established 1982 Retail: 234 Newbury St, Peabody MA (978)-535-6550 Wholesale: 8 Dearborn Rd, Peabody MA (978)-854-4520 Northeast Nursery Pro Divisions Centrally Located O Rt 1 & I 95 • Nursery Stock • Bulk Goods • Hardscapes • Pest & Disease Control • Irrigation Supplies • Planters & Garden Features • Arbor Supplies • Winter Products • Rental Equipment • Custom Grass Seed Blends
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