H2O rates continue to swell. Here's a look at where the problem is escalating, what's driving the costs, and what landscape professionals can do about it.
Water. People use it every day - to drink, shower, flush toilets, brush teeth, water landscapes. People use water so frequently throughout the day and in so many ways, they don't even realize how much; its uses are limitless. Its uses are also necessary.
On top of that, water is also relatively inexpensive. As a result, people don't pay too much attention to the cost or how much of it they use.
But that is changing. As Americans are distracted with fluctuating fuel costs, water rates have doubled in the past 12 years, even tripling in a few areas, according to a USA Today survey of 100 municipalities. Another survey by Circle of Blue shows single-family residential water rates in the 20 largest U.S. cities and 10 regionally representative cities rose an average of 7.3 percent from 2011 to 2012 and nearly 18 percent since 2010. A Fast Company article even compared water's rising rates to that of something more expensive like cable vs. electricity or gas.
Understanding what's causing these surging prices can help landscape professionals better understand their roles in helping their customers reduce costs and save water.
USA Today's study, which took a look at costs for a mix of water suppliers representing every state and Washington, D.C., found prices doubled in 29 localities. In three specific municipalities - Atlanta, San Francisco and Wilmington, Del. - water costs tripled.
In some cases, the increases are jaw-dropping. Chicago went through a 25-percent jump in 2012 and a further 15.1-percent rise this year. Across 30 cities, the Circle of Blue study found average water prices climbed 25 percent since 2010 - far above inflation levels. Austin, Texas (22 percent) and Tucson, Ariz. (17.6 percent) had the biggest increases since 2012 in Circle of Blue's survey, followed by Los Angeles at 12.4 percent, San Francisco at 12.8 percent and Charlotte, N.C., at 10.8 percent.
Furthermore, as of June 2013, 40 percent of U.S. counties are experiencing drought conditions. For businesses located in these water scarce areas, the options are clear: cut water use or prepare to pay increasing water rates, Circle of Blue says.
What's causing the rising rates? A backlog of infrastructure repairs - work the federal government no longer subsidizes cities for, Circle of Blue's Brett Walton says.
The Environmental Protection Agency says cities will have to invest $384 million by 2030 to keep the water running. A whopping two-thirds of that price tag is for replacing and repairing water pipes. According to a USA Today-cited survey of experts released in June, that number is even higher - U.S. water systems will need as much as $1 trillion in infrastructure improvements by 2035.
Consumers are expected to fund those projects through their water bills.
Water costs continue to rise even though residential water usage dropped sharply nationwide in the past three decades amid conservation efforts, USA Today reports. For instance, Circle of Blue's report shows Los Angeles households using less than 50 gallons per day per head saw bills rise 17.3 percent.
But this isn't always the case. Some cities changed their rate structures to incentivize less usage: 50 gallon families in Austin, Texas, for example, paid 0.5 percent less last year than in 2012, Circle of Blue points out.
One part of the problem is outdated and inefficient landscape irrigation systems. In fact, according to ValleyCrest, 10 percent of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons of water or more per day.
What can landscape industry professionals do to help? Continue to update and renovate outdated irrigation systems on client properties and talk to them about changes they can make to increase water savings, industry experts recommend. Products that optimize water, lower flow rates and use local weather data can boost efficiency and reduce overall water use.
Wisniewski, Nicole. "The Rising Cost of Water" Turf Design Build Aug. 2013: 22. Print. Used by permission.
These perennials are a few of my favorites and new varieties have been introduced for 2013!
Monarda "Pardon My Purple" introduced by Arie Blom
Echinacea "Butterfly Kisses" introduced by Walters Gardens
Russian Sage "PEEK A BLUE" introduced by Walters Gardens
From a new petunia bred to grow upright on a trellis to peas that produce more tendrils for a culinary treat and a new sweet corn that can be grown in patio containers, National Garden Bureau members have supplied a large number of unique new introductions for the 2013 National Garden Bureau New Varieties program. As we all know, most gardeners adore new varieties when planning their next season's garden. So this listing is an excellent resource for gardeners who are using the downtime of winter to plan their colorful annual gardens for next spring or the delicious vegetable varieties they will plant in their edible gardens. The collection of new varieties also includes a unique celosia with spiky blooms, a patchwork-looking impatiens, a new Swiss Chard with pink and white striped stems and many more.
The images and descriptions of almost 100 exciting new annuals and vegetables are presented on the National Garden Bureau website.
A few examples of the new varieties:
Echinacea "Cheyenne Spirit"
Verbena "Lanai® Candy Cane"
MasterScapes® is pleased to welcome several new members to our staff and announce a recent promotion.
Chasity Brown, Kyle Ferrell, and Todd Lancaster have all recently joined our team. Chasity is an Abilene High graduate with several years of valuable office experience; Kyle just graduated with honors from Abilene Christian University; and Todd is a former business manager and owner with over a decade of industry experience.
Daniel Julian has been promoted to Account Manager after serving well as the Fertilization and Weed Control Supervisor in the Property Care division. Daniel is very conscientious about providing the best care possible for the clients that he serves.
More detailed information about the entire staff at MasterScapes® can be found on our staff page.
by Paul Zimmerman (to visit Paul Zimmerman's rose blog, click here)
International Rose Trials are a valuable way for the home gardener to learn what roses do well and are potential candidates to add to their own garden. The trials are open to all rose breeders from professional to beginner and so test a broad range of roses. Generally the roses are judged by a permeant jury over two years for overall appearance health, vigor, fragrance and bloom. Upon completion of that two year period an International jury is brought in to judge them one time, their scores are added in to the permanent jury's scores and the winners are announced. It's a grand event and fun for all rose lovers.
Up until recently the only International Rose Trials were overseas. Luckily North America now has two such trials. The Biltmore International Rose Trials which I've written about in a previous post, and the the Rose Hills International Rose Trials in Southern California, which is first one established in the United States. The Rose Hills trials were established by Dr. Tommy Cairns and they are beautifully run. I've had the pleasure of judging them a few times and have throughly enjoyed it.
The Rose Hills Trials have just had their International Juding Day and the results from this year are in. I'm passing them along to you so you consider some of these great roses for your garden!
Hybrid Tea Category - Gold Medal and Hamilton Garden Trophy. This award went to the rose 'Dick Clark' (WEKfunk). It was bred by Christian Bedard and Tom Carruth of Weeks Roses in California. It's a beautiful two toned rose of cherry red/pink and cream colors. It has a moderate, cinnamon fragrance.
Floribunda Category - Gold Medal and Adelaide Trophy. The winner in the group this year is the rose 'Cinco de Mayo' (WEKcobeju). Also from Weeks Roses and bred by Tom Carruth this little beauty has been turning heads ever since it's release in 2009. The blooms are a russet and lavender color and the compact growth habit makes it perfect for smaller gardens and even containers.
Hybrid Tea Category - Gold Medal. This went the rose 'Sunshine Daydream' (MEIKanaro). Bred by the French nursery of Meilland, this butter cream yellow rose yields nice sized blooms all season long. It's not only disease resistant but also great for cutting and bringing into the house.
Miniature Rose Category - Gold Medal. The rose 'Butter Me Up' (WEKpivoom) took the award this year. Bred by Christian Bedard of Weeks Roses, Butter Me Up yields golden yellow blooms in a miniature hybrid tea shape. It's diminutive size makes it perfect for containers on a patio or the front of a flower border.
Most Fragrant Category - Gifu Governor's Award. The variety 'Sugar Moon' (WEKmemolo) bred by Christian Bedard of Weeks Roses took this award. If you are looking for a white rose with fragrance this one is for you!
Best Established Category - Gold Medal to 'Opening Night' (JAColber) bred by Keith Zary the former hybridizer for Jackson & Perkins. The best established award is one given to a rose that has been in the garden for a while. It is meant to recognize an older rose, established variety that year after year looks great in the garden. if you are looking for a true red rose consider this one.
People's Choice Award - This award is voted for by the general public who visit the garden throughout the year. It gives them a chance to get in on the action. The award this year went to the rose 'Easy Does It' (HARpageant) bred by the UK Nursery Harkness. As its name implies this is an easy rose to grow and bears orange/apricot blooms all season long.
And the overall winner is!
'Sugar Moon' (WEKmemolo) took the prestigious award the Golden Rose Of Rose Hills. This rose had the highest score of any rose in the trials. As I previously mentioned, it also took the most fragrant award so this is definitely a rose to consider for all gardeners. Many of you love roses with fragrance and here we have one. Congratulations to Christian Bedard of Weeks roses for winning this award!
from Paul Zimmerman and Fine Gardening magazine
"Sugar Moon" photo credit: Weeks Roses
The Sweetwater Chamber of Commerce officially welcomed MasterScapes® to the community today with a ribbon cutting by the Redcoats. A number of business professionals and Chamber members were in attendance to greet the MasterScapes® team.
Ryan McCorkle, formerly an Account Manager at the Abilene office, is the Sweetwater General Manager and says, "I'm really excited to be part of MasterScapes® in Sweetwater. We can now offer a wider range of our services here and I plan to jump in and be involved in the community, too. I grew up nearby so it feels like home to me already."
Full of symbolism, this plant has mystical roots.
Shamrocks have been symbolic of many things over the years. According to legend, the shamrock was a sacred plant to the Druids of Ireland because its leaves formed a triad, and three was a mystical number in the Celtic religion, as in many others. St. Patrick used the shamrock in the 5th century to illustrate the doctrine of the Holy Trinity as he introduced Christianity to Ireland.
The shamrock became symbolic in other ways as time went on. In the 19th century it became a symbol of rebellion, and anyone wearing it risked death by hanging. It was this period that spawned the phrase "the wearin' o' the green." Today, the shamrock is the most recognized symbol of the Irish, especially on St. Patrick's Day, when all over the world, everyone is Irish for a day!
The original Irish shamrock (traditionally spelled seamróg, which means "summer plant") is said by many authorities to be none other than white clover (Trifolium repens), a common lawn weed originally native to Ireland. It is a vigorous, rhizomatous, stem-rooting perennial with trifoliate leaves. Occasionally, a fourth leaflet will appear, making a "four-leaf clover," said to bring good luck to the person who discovers it.
by Michelle Gervais for Fine Gardening magazine
Photo by Michelle Gervais
WASHINGTON, Jan. 25, 2012--The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today released the new version of its Plant Hardiness Zone Map (PHZM), updating a useful tool for gardeners and researchers for the first time since 1990 with greater accuracy and detail. The new map—jointly developed by USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and Oregon State University's (OSU) PRISM Climate Group—is available online at http://www.planthardiness.ars.usda.gov ARS i.s the chief intramural scientific research agency of USDA.
For the first time, the new map offers a Geographic Information System (GIS)-based interactive format and is specifically designed to be Internet-friendly. The map website also incorporates a "find your zone by ZIP code" function. Static images of national, regional and state maps have also been included to ensure the map is readily accessible to those who lack broadband Internet access.
"This is the most sophisticated Plant Hardiness Zone Map yet for the United States," said Dr. Catherine Woteki, USDA Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics. "The increases in accuracy and detail that this map represents will be extremely useful for gardeners and researchers."
Plant hardiness zone designations represent the average annual extreme minimum temperatures at a given location during a particular time period. They do not reflect the coldest it has ever been or ever will be at a specific location, but simply the average lowest winter temperature for the location over a specified time. Low temperature during the winter is a crucial factor in the survival of plants at specific locations.
The new version of the map includes 13 zones, with the addition for the first time of zones 12 (50-60 degrees F) and 13 (60-70 degrees F). Each zone is a 10-degree Fahrenheit band, further divided into A and B 5-degree Fahrenheit zones.
To help develop the new map, USDA and OSU requested that horticultural and climatic experts review the zones in their geographic area, and trial versions of the new map were revised, based on their expert input.
Compared to the 1990 version, zone boundaries in this edition of the map have shifted in many areas. The new map is generally one 5-degree Fahrenheit half-zone warmer than the previous map throughout much of the United States. This is mostly a result of using temperature data from a longer and more recent time period; the new map uses data measured at weather stations during the 30-year period 1976-2005. In contrast, the 1990 map was based on temperature data from only a 13-year period of 1974-1986.
Some of the changes in the zones, however, are a result of new, more sophisticated methods for mapping zones between weather stations. These include algorithms that considered for the first time such factors as changes in elevation, nearness to large bodies of water, and position on the terrain, such as valley bottoms and ridge tops. Also, the new map used temperature data from many more stations than did the 1990 map. These advances greatly improved the accuracy and detail of the map, especially in mountainous regions of the western United States. In some cases, advances resulted in changes to cooler, rather than warmer, zones.
While about 80 million American gardeners, as well as those who grow and breed plants, are the largest users of the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, many others need this hardiness zone information. For example, the USDA Risk Management Agency uses the USDA plant hardiness zone designations to set some crop insurance standards. Scientists use the plant hardiness zones as a data layer in many research models such as modeling the spread of exotic weeds and insects.
Although a poster-sized version of this map will not be available for purchase from USDA, as in the past, anyone may download the map free of charge from the Internet onto their personal computer and print copies of the map as needed.
As USDA's chief scientific research agency, ARS is leading America towards a better future through agricultural research and information. ARS conducts research to develop and transfer solutions to help answer agricultural questions that impact Americans every day. ARS work helps to:
from the US Department of Agriculture
COLLEGE STATION – A green checkerboard at the new Turfgrass Urban Ecology Field Laboratory in College Station is a project to develop new cultivars of major turfgrasses with improved drought and salinity stress tolerance.
Dr. Lloyd Nelson, professor emeritus in turfgrass, and Dr. Ambika Chandra, a Texas AgriLife Research assistant professor of turfgrass breeding in Dallas, discuss the different plots at a recent field day.
Dr. Ambika Chandra, a Texas AgriLife Research assistant professor of turfgrass breeding and molecular genetics in Dallas and the principal investigator of this project, is working under a $3.8 million grant from the Specialty Crops Research Initiative program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
“The main idea is that five universities in the south and southeast have gotten together with one goal in mind – to develop cultivars of turfgrasses that are drought as well as salinity tolerant,” she said.
Chandra and Dr. Lloyd Nelson, professor emeritus in turfgrass, have AgriLife Research turf plots at both Dallas and College Station. They are collaborating with scientists from North Carolina State University, Oklahoma State University, University of Georgia and University of Florida on the five-year study.
Dr. Ambika Chandra, a Texas AgriLife Research assistant professor of turfgrass breeding, shows how some of the 4-inch plugs of grass failed to spread while others filled out the 3-foot-by-3-foot plots. (Texas AgriLife Research photo by Kay Ledbetter)
In the first year of the project, 160 different experimental genotypes of Bermuda grass, zoysia grass and St. Augustine grass and 80 genotypes of seashore paspalum grass were planted, Nelson said. Ryegrass germplasm or experimental lines were planted this month.
These lines are not ready to be released to the public, he said, but they are ready for evaluation by the participating universities at multiple locations throughout the southern U.S.
“We want to develop cultivars that are drought and salinity tolerant that can be used in parks, golf courses, home lawns and commercial landscapes,” Chandra said. “We want to provide the best to our producers, consumers and industry.”
She said breeding is the answer to these two issues – drought and salinity – because a chemical can’t be developed to fix either of them, as is the case in controlling disease and insect pest damage. And, the freshwater supply is limited and increasingly more expensive.
“It is becoming necessary to use water of lesser quality on your turf and landscape,” Chandra said. “That’s why we are doing this, and why these seven breeding programs in the southern region are working collaboratively under this project.”
By evaluating the same plant material under different environmental conditions, breeders can determine the range of adaptation and identify breeding lines best suited for regions across the south and the southeast.
This first year got the plots established, using full fertilizer and irrigation, Nelson said.
“A 4-inch plug was planted to fill each 3-foot-by-3-foot plot,” Chandra said. “You can already see the differences in the amount they have spread, the color, the density of the grass – these are the things we are taking notes on this year.
“We will start stressing it for moisture next summer and begin our evaluation for heat and drought tolerance,” she said. “We will also look at winter kill this winter.”
Chandra said next summer another set of experimental germplasm will be evaluated for all five grasses at all seven locations.
In the third and fourth years, the best material from these first-year plots, as well as those planted next year – regardless of what program it came from – will be replicated in larger field plots, Chandra said. Selected genotypes also will be evaluated in greenhouses for salinity stress tolerance and will be grown under rain-out shelters to determine their drought stress tolerance.
“The idea is to select the 3 to 5 percent ‘good performers’ each year and then that material will be studied in further detail on larger plots at all five universities,” she said.
“The goal is to identify and increase the best genotypes and eventually release them as cultivars for the turfgrass industry.”
from AgriLife TODAY (Oct 27, 2011) by Kay Ledbetter, photo of Dr. Lloyd Nelson and Dr. Ambika Chandra by Kay Ledbetter
We are honored that a MasterScapes client recently received the Abilene Garden Club Award for landscape beautification. This property is located in the old Elmwood area in South Abilene.
King Ranch (or KR) Bluestem is a perennial grassy weed and its presence in Abilene has been confirmed by theTexas AgriLife Extension Service of Taylor County; there is currently no chemical labeled for its control. Please read below for more information on this invasive weed.
King Ranch (or KR) Bluestem (Bothriochloa ischaemum var. songarica), introduced from Europe and Asia, has greatly increased its range by cultivation for livestock forage and as an inclusion in seed mixes used to stabilize roadsides by highway departments. When it was introduced in the 1920s and 1930s it was seen as a desirable species for erosion control since it is drought resistant and quickly establishes itself. It is now considered invasive and its presence threatens the abundance and diversity of native species. You are well advised and should be congratulated for attempting to control it.
Simply mowing it is not going to get rid of it, however. It will, of course, curb the spread somewhat if the mowing is done before it flowers and sets seed; however, keeping it mowed short is likely to extend its spread by sending out stolons.
The recent 2007 Texas Invasive Plant Conference had a special one day symposium devoted to the discussion of Old World Bluestems and the problems concerning their effective control. You can read abstracts of papers presented there and find that there is no single, surefire method for control of KR bluestem. The methods under investigation are:
1) Herbicides alone—The conclusion of several of the papers is that herbicides alone are not an effective control for KR bluestem.
2) Tilling (disking or harrowing) alone—Here is the recommendation from the Native Prairies Association of Texas in their article, "Want to Plant a Prairie?" by Lee Stone and Arnold Davis
"You've got K-R Bluestem? Plow deeply enough to turn the roots up in the early summer. Do everything you can in the early summer to kill those roots. If you get fall germination of K-R, till your land two inches deep. Don't ever go below this two inch depth. If you go more deeply, you'll just be bringing up more seed. The minute you see any germination at all, use a spring tooth harrow or a section harrow, but never below two inches.
Bank on at least one more germination occurring. Get them too. You won't be planting your prairie until May. But live with that fact. Get the seed to germinate, then kill them with tillage or herbicide. This exotic seeds well, is aggressive, and spreads under conditions of grazing and mowing."
Another study, KR Bluestem Management in Bermudagrass Pastures by Paul Baumann and Ron Leps from the Williamson County Texas Cooperative Extension Service concluded that "What is evident from these
studies is that tillage has a significant impact on KR Bluestem." Their study shows tilling alone is more effective than any of the herbicides alone or herbicides in combination with tilling.
3) Tilling in conjunction with herbicides—One of the papers delivered (Restoration of Native Subtropical Forest in Abandoned Cropland Dominated by Kleberg Bluestem in Cameron County, Texas by Chris Best and Mick Castillo of U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service) reported that "the most effective treatment has been disking followed by 1 year of glyphosate treatment."
Another study, Invasive Ecology of Old World Bluestems and Insights for Management by Marvin Ruffner and Lynn Drawe agreed that "Disking followed by herbicide treatments provided the most effective long-term control of Old World bluestems."
4) Prescribed burns—Mark Simmons of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center reported in Selective and Non-Selective Control of King Ranch Bluestem: The Short-Term Effects of Growing-Season Prescribed Fire, Herbicide, and Mowing in Texas Prairie that prescribed burns during the growing season (summer) were "effective at reducing the abundance of B. ischaemum" while dormant season (winter) burns encouraged KR growth. Also, the advantage of growing season prescribed fire over tilling/herbicide is that many native grasses can tolerate fire, hence this technique is selective rather than wholesale.
So---given the fact that it isn't practical to pull or dig up all the clumps of KR on your 1/2 acre (that would be the MOST effective way of getting rid of it), the least expensive and most environmental friendly option would be tilling up the roots and/or a prescribed burn during the summer growing season. This may take multiple tillings and you will need to be vigilant for new germination.
from Ask Mr. Smarty Plants, a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
Residents in Abilene can now water lawns and shrubbery just once a week.
This new level – decreased from the current twice-a-week watering schedule – was announced Thursday afternoon by Abilene Mayor Norm Archibald.
He said the latest level of water restrictions were being ordered, for the first time since 2007, because water at Lake Fort Phantom Hill has now dropped below 10 feet below the spillway.
With lake levels that low, the city's water conservation plan authorizes the mayor to declare the Stage 1 restrictions, which makes once-a-week watering mandatory.
Watering is permitted before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m. on a resident's designated watering day. No watering is permitted between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on any day.
The one-day-a-week watering plan will remain in effect until further notice. Each resident's watering day is determined by the last digit of the property address. Here are the watering days:
Last digit – watering day
7 or 8 – Sunday
9 – Monday
0 – Tuesday
1 – Wednesday
2 – Thursday
3 or 4 – Friday
5 or 6 – Saturday
Abilene's water conservation plan was adopted in June 2003 and gives the mayor the authority to call for one-day-a-week watering when the Lake Fort Phantom Hill reservoir level drops to 10 feet below the spillway.
from KTXS News
Structural Pest Control Board of Texas Applicator’s License
Texas Board of Irrigators Irrigator’s License
Texas Certified Nursery Professional
Certified Turfgrass Professional
2004 Texas Excellence in Landscaping Award, honorable mention, presented by the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association for Commercial Installation and Design of Haskell National Bank, Abilene.
2010 Texas Excellence in Landscaping Award, honorable mention, presented by the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association for Residential Installation and Design of private residence, West Texas.
Texas Board of Architectural Examiners Registered Landscape Architect
American Society of Landscape Architects - member in good standing
Abilene Chamber of Commerce - member in good standing
Texas Nursery and Landscape Association - member in good standing
Long before modern science began to understand the processes that create our weather, people made up their own explanations. Many of these accounts were fantastic in nature, with evil or benevolent gods, monsters, and spirits controlling the elements. In this series, we’ll explore some of these ancient myths and share the science behind them. Weather + mythology = weather-ology!
Helios is the Greek Sun god said to drive a chariot led by four fiery horses across the sky each day. One of the most popular myths about Helios concerns his mortal son, Phaeton.
The boy, whose name meant “the shining one,” had grown up without ever knowing his father. When his mother finally told him the truth about his divine parentage, he did not believe her, so she encouraged him to make a journey to his father’s palace in the east. After a long and arduous journey, Phaeton found his father, who was so overjoyed to see his son that he swore by the river Styx (the most sacred oath one could give at that time) he would grant Phaeton any one thing he wished. Helios immediately regretted his offer when his son named his heart’s desire: Phaeton wanted to drive his father’s chariot. Though the sun god tried to talk him into wishing for anything else – even the god Zeus was unable to control Helios’ four steeds – Phaeton was resolute. Having sworn a sacred oath, Helios was bound to it, so he anointed his son’s head with magic oil to keep him from being burned by his fiery chariot and prepared his horses for the day’s work.
As soon as Phaeton took the reigns, the four horses could tell their new driver was not as strong as their master. They bolted, dragging the hapless youth in the chariot behind them. First, they carried the chariot too high, so that the Earth grew cold and dark. Then they dropped down too close to the Earth, burning everything in their path. Crops withered and died, stream beds dried up, the Earth baked. Deserts formed across much of Africa.
The people called out to the gods to help them and Zeus was finally forced to intervene. He struck the chariot down with a lightning bolt, killing Phaeton and sending him tumbling into the river Eridanos. Helios was grief-stricken and blamed Zeus for the loss of his son, but Zeus insisted it had to be done for the sake of all life on Earth.
The gods laid Helios’ son to rest, marking his grave with the epitaph, “Here lies Phaethon who drove the Sun-god’s car. Greatly he failed, but greatly he dared.”
The Greeks invented the story of Phaeton to explain heat waves, drought, and the existence of deserts. When, as has happened this year throughout the southern half of the United States, the heat index rises and rain does not fall, it can be easy to believe that the Sun has moved closer, baking everything in sight.
Of course, today we know that hot, dry weather is caused by high-pressure systems moving into an area. The high atmospheric pressure prevents water vapor from rising up and forming clouds. The lack of clouds allows even more sunlight to reach the Earth, warming things up even further. High-pressure systems are incredibly stable, and can become self-perpetuating. Usually, these fronts are eventually broken up by low-pressure fronts, bringing cooler air and rain. Sometimes, though, the weather conditions are just right to keep a high-pressure system in place for several weeks or even months. When that happens, the result is a drought.
This can happen for any number of reasons. Jet streams can work to hold a high-pressure system in place. A La Niña – periodic cold-water currents in the Pacific Ocean – can prevent low pressure systems from forming. Or, as is the case in desert regions, mountains can prevent water vapor from the ocean from reaching certain inland areas.
Thankfully, most droughts do eventually end, as low-pressure fronts move in and bring rain. And, as when Zeus struck down Phaeton, the lightning is usually a welcome sound to those below.
by Jaime McLeod from the Farmers’ Almanac 2011
Abilene residents are now limited to two days per week to water their lawns. The new restrictions are effective today according to Mayor Norman Archibald who asks that Abilene citizens conserve water whenever possible.
Residents are permitted to water from midnight to 10am and from 6pm to midnight on designated days which are determined by property address.
Odd numbered residential addresses: Thursday and Sunday;
Even numbered residential addresses: Tuesday and Saturday.
For more information about the city’s watering schedule or to read the full Water Conservation Plan, click http://www.abilenetx.com/WaterUtilitiesDept/yearround.htm.
from the Associated Press
OPELIKA, Ala. — The Alabama fan accused of poisoning the oak trees at Auburn’s Toomer’s Corner has been indicted by a Lee County grand jury on four felony charges and two misdemeanors.
Harvey Updyke Jr., 62, faces two felony counts of first-degree criminal mischief, two felony counts of unlawful damage, felony vandalism or theft of property from a farm animal or crop facility and two misdemeanor counts of desecrating a venerated object, according to court documents.
Updyke is scheduled for arraignment on May 26 before Lee County Circuit Court Judge Jacob A. Walker III. He has a tentative trial date of June 20.
Updyke’s attorney, Glennon Threatt Jr., did not immediately return calls seeking comment on Wednesday.
The century-old trees preside over Toomer’s Corner, at the intersection of campus and downtown, where Auburn fans have traditionally celebrated wins. One of those traditions had been to heave toilet paper into the branches.
Updyke said he was attacked by unknown assailants at a gas station shortly after leaving the courthouse following his appearance for a preliminary hearing, which he waived.
Opelika Police Capt. Allan Elkins said Wednesday no suspects have been found or arrested.
“There has been no activity in this case since the report has been made,” Elkins said. “There has been no witness to come forward, there has been no evidence collected. The investigators have nothing to work with.”
Updyke gave what was tantamount to a confession in the poisoning later that evening on a Birmingham radio show, saying he didn’t want his legacy to be as “Harvey the tree poisoner.” He also said that “undoubtedly” wasn’t one of the good things he has done in his life.
He ended his appearance by saying, “Roll D*** Tide.”
“All my life, people have told me I cared too much about Alabama,” Updyke said on the show.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
For your convenience, MasterScapes® now accepts debit and credit card payments online. Through the industry’s leading IP payment gateway and in compliance with credit card processing security requirements, making your payment online at masterscapes.com is simple, reliable, and secure.
Click here to go to our online payment page now!
Effective February 22, 2011 Abilene Lawn Solutions clients will be serviced by MasterScapes®. “We reached an agreement so that his clients would continue to receive treatment services and MasterScapes® now has the opportunity to offer additional services to help meet all of their needs,” explains Dan Haught of MasterScapes®. “I am pleased to be in a position to help both the clients and the former owner.”
Dan Haught, 1995
What began in 1992 as Haught Landscape Co., a small mowing company in a shared office, has grown into a full-service property care, landscape, and water management firm.
In 1995, Haught Landscape Co. changed its name to MasterScapes® and moved all eight of its employees to the current location in South Abilene.
Today, our fine staff exceeds 40 and includes a Landscape Architect, Certified Arborist, Master Nurseryman, Certified Turf Grass Professional, Licensed Applicators, Licensed Irrigators, and more. Their degrees range from Business to Horticulture to Agricultural Services and their years of experience are countless.“Our blessings are beyond what we could have imagined 20 years ago. I am grateful and humbled by the continued loyalty of so many that we serve and that work with us,” said Dan Haught.
Another diagnosis of Oak Wilt has been confirmed in the Tanglewood/River Oaks neighborhood in Abilene according to Scott Warren, Certified Arborist with MasterScapes®. “An exact diagnosis can only be confirmed through lab work from a sample that tests positive for a fungal spore,” Warren explains.
Oak trees affected by Oak Wilt can decline very fast and no Oak species is immune from the fungus. Outward signs of Oak Wilt include veined necrosis in the leaves, an appearance that the tree is dying. Although treatment after infection is possible, the fungus is much easier to prevent than cure.confirmed Oak Wilt
“The only accepted treatment method is chemical injection, rather than spraying or drenching. Homeowners typically don’t do it themselves because the method of application is difficult,” says Warren. “It’s important to seek a Certified Arborist for Oak Wilt treatment or prevention not only for correct diagnosis, but also for proper treatment methods. Size and health of a tree determine the injection duration which can range from 30 to 90 minutes per tree.”
“Oak Wilt treatment may seem expensive, but compared to the removal or replacement of Oak trees, it’s very affordable. And a speciman Oak tree, one that’s 30 or 40 years old, is irreplacable.”
For more detailed information on Oak Wilt, please see the Oak Wilt Fact Sheet or contact Scott Warren, Certified Arborist, at MasterScapes®.
Blue Cross Blue Shield has received the Donna Albus Beautification Award presented by Keep Abilene Beautiful. This award is presented annually to a business which “has taken extra measures to keep their business beautiful,” explains Alexis Rolfe of Keep Abilene Beautiful. “The Donna Albus Beautification Award was developed to motivate businesses in the Abilene city limits to take the extra effort and pride in the outward appearance of their building. The BCBS building has come such a long way due to the dedicated staff and we were excited to announce them as the 2010 Donna Albus Beautification Award recipient.”
Blue Cross Blue Shield is a property care client of MasterScapes®.
Effective January 8, 2010 Morris Lawn Service became part of MasterScapes®, Inc. “Tom Morris’ intention to retire gave us an opportunity to provide a wider range of services to his weed control clients while providing us the economy-of-scale benefit. It is a great fit for both of us,” said Dan Haught of MasterScapes®. “We are pleased to be able to help both Tom and his clients.”
The Texas Nursery and Landscape Association (TNLA) has announced the 2010 winners of the prestigious Texas Excellence in Landscaping (TEIL) Awards which include an Honorable Mention for MasterScapes®. These awards recognize the year’s top achievers in landscape design, installation, and maintenance in the State of Texas and reflect the association’s commitment to creating and preserving the beauty of the Texas landscape. The program is designed to recognize independent landscape and lawn care professionals who execute superior projects.
MasterScapes®’ residential project, a ranch located in Eastland County in the landscape design and installation category, is the company’s second TEIL recognition of two submissions. In 2004, MasterScapes® received Honorable Mention in the commercial landscape and design category for Haskell National Bank, Abilene.
We are proud of our outstanding and very creative Landscape Architect, Tom Martin, and our terrific landscape installation crews who make his designs a reality.
ABILENE, Texas – Starting today, August 4, outdoor lawn watering in the City of Abilene and its wholesale water customers is limited to two days per week. This afternoon at City Hall, Mayor Norm Archibald made the announcement to heighten the City’s water conservation measures.
“Due to a dry, hot summer, our reservoir levels are significantly lower than they’ve been in nearly two years,” said Mayor Norm Archibald. “Conditions are appropriate to change our water conservation efforts to a two day per week watering schedule. Until we receive more rain, citizens can help do their part by conserving water whenever possible.”
Watering is permitted 12 midnight until 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. until 12 midnight on a customer’s designated watering day. The customer’s watering day is determined by the last digit of the house number of property address.
Designated Watering Days:
Thursday, Sunday - Odd numbered addresses
Tuesday, Saturday - Even numbered addresses
Monday, Friday - Industrial, commercial, government customers, public and private schools and universities
The two day per week outside lawn watering schedule will stay in effect until further notice.
Year round water restrictions with a three day per week watering schedule became effective August 30, 2007. According to the City of Abilene’s water conservation plan, the Mayor may call for two day per week watering when the Lake Fort Phantom Reservoir level is between five and ten feet below the spillway.
from the City of Abilene website
For more information about the City of Abilene Water Conservation plan, click here.
When water is applied to the soil, it seeps down through the root zone very gradually. Each layer of soil must be filled to “field capacity” before water descends to the next layer. This water movement is referred to as the wetting front. Water moves downward through a sandy coarse soil much faster than through a fine-textured soil such as clay or silt.
If only one-half the amount of water required for healthy growth of your garden or landscape is applied at a given time, it only penetrates the top half of the root zone; the area below the point where the wetting front stops remains dry, as if no irrigation has been applied at all.
Once enough water is applied to move the wetting front into the root zone, moisture is absorbed by plant roots and moves up through the stem to the leaves and fruits. Leaves have thousands of microscopic openings, called stomates, through which water vapor is lost from the plant. This continual loss of water called transpiration, causes the plant to wilt unless a constant supply of soil water is provided by absorption through the roots.
The total water requirement is the amount of water lost from the plant plus the amount evaporated from the soil. These two processes are called evapo-transpiration.
Evapo-transpiration rates vary and are influenced by day length, temperature, cloud cover, wind, relative humidity, mulching, and the type, size and number of plants growing in a given area.
Water is required for the normal physiological processes of all plants. It is the primary medium for chemical reactions and movement of substances through the various plant parts. Water is an essential component in photosynthesis and plant metabolism, including cell division and enlargement. It is important also in cooling the surfaces of land plants by transpiration. Water is also a primary yield-determining factor in crop production. Plants with insufficient water respond by closing the stomata, leaf rolling, changing leaf orientation and reducing leaf and stem growth and fruit yield.
information provided by Alldredge Gardens
April 14, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Noreen Rich
FALLS CHURCH, VA. (April 14, 2009) - In 2006, the Irrigation Association named July Smart Irrigation Month to raise awareness of the benefits of smart irrigation practices. Since then, IA members in every segment of the industry have used Smart Irrigation Month as an opportunity to promote efficient irrigation practices, technologies and methods.
“Our mission is to promote efficient irrigation,” said IA Executive Director Deborah Hamlin. “Smart Irrigation Month is a valuable opportunity to promote water-saving products, practices and services during what is traditionally the busiest time of the year for water-use.”
By displaying the Smart Irrigation Month logo, IA members are part of an industry-wide effort to promote efficient irrigation. In addition to using the logo, IA members promote efficient water-use by highlighting the latest innovations in irrigation technology. IA certified professionals help homeowners and other water users save water and money by installing systems that best meet clients’ needs.
Visit http://www.smartirrigationmonth.org for water saving tips, marketing materials, logos available for download, public service announcements, press releases, and other free tools to promote Smart Irrigation Month and efficient irrigation.
The Irrigation Association is the leading membership organization for irrigation equipment and system manufacturers, dealers, distributors, designers, consultants, contractors and end users. Originally founded in 1949, IA includes over 2,000 corporate and individual members and is dedicated to promoting efficient irrigation. For more information, visit http://www.irrigation.org.
The Irrigation Association promotes efficient irrigation.
The City of Abilene compiled this outstanding list of water-wise plant recommendations.
In our continued effort to provide proactive information to our valued clients, we at feel it necessary to communicate recent soil and turf test results received from the Texas Plant Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at Texas A&M University. The results of tests performed on Abilene lawn samples have confirmed a fungus called TARR (Take-All Root Rot, also known as Take-All Patch), present in St. Augustine grass.
TARR can be a very difficult turf disease to manage, but early detection and aggressive management strategies can achieve effective disease control. Unfortunately, there is no cure for TARR but quick and aggressive action will help minimize long-term turf damage. Although we cannot guarantee results associated with any treatment targeting this virulent fungus, MasterScapes® is offering a multi-product application according to the recommendations provided by the Texas Plant Disease Diagnostic Laboratory.
Our staff will continue to monitor lawns in our service area and notify homeowners of any possible problems identified. If your yard contains St. Augustine grass and you recognize the symptoms posted on our website, please call our office for pricing and scheduling of this customized application.