Welcome to “At Home with Tom and Sandy!” Now that we are in Spring, we have called on a “lifeline” to talk landscaping, because now is the time. As Tom and I always say, we are here to give you the inside scoop on real estate, the construction industry, what’s up, what’s down, what’s hot, and what’s not. We’ll share real estate stats, home prices, building permit numbers, construction pointers and give you hints on renovations that will give you a return on your investment.
There is plenty going on in the housing and construction industry and we love sharing our column with you. So, settle in and enjoy.
Sandy: Well Mr. R, here we are again. Spring is springing; Spring has sprung but we can still hear winter’s growl. We are not home free yet and out of weather. I’m thinking we should talk about spring stuff. What do you think?
Tom: Agreed. In fact, I have taken it upon myself to ask our good friend Chris Welborn, owner of Vicente Landscaping, to join us and talk about getting us prepared for Spring.
Sandy: Great idea. For some of our readers that may not know, Chris is a YCCA board member. He is our secretary/treasurer and this organization is so proud to have his representation and unselfish spirit for the community. He is so very helpful every time I have a landscape question. Chris, welcome to our column.
Chris: Thanks for asking me to join you both and you know landscaping is one of my favorite subjects, even talking about weeds!
Sandy: Chris, this has been such a crazy, weird season, hardly any winter, lots of summer and now our favorite time of the year – springtime!
Chris: I call it the in-between time. April can be challenging to those who want to get out and either tend to landscape or start planting.
Tom: Why do you say that, Chris?
Chris: Well to begin, once the plant begins to leaf out, it is too late to prune if you want to enjoy great spring blooms. You might be able to trim sages and such, but leave your trees alone. Plants are just starting to wake up and this is the month they take to do that.
Sandy: Chris, with our beautiful days it is so tempting to head outside and start snipping and pruning and I can be dangerous with those clippers in hand!
Chris: First things first, now is the time to prepare for the growing season that is almost started. Start by turning on your irrigation system and inspect it. Look for line breaks, missing emitter heads, leaks and check the backflow valves.
Tom: All good advice, Chris. We check ours out monthly. Also, we turn our irrigation on at least once a week during the winter for a couple of hours to give our plants needed water.
Chris: Perfect, Tom, you are an overachiever for winter landscaping. Plants need water year-round. They need more during the growing season. It might still be freezing at night, so you might want to water manually if we haven’t had enough rain or snow. I heard our girl, Sandy, did not water during the winter drought and she has two not-so-healthy looking bushes.
Sandy: Okay, okay, okay! I will turn the irrigation system on! Chris, do your helpful hints apply to lawns as well?
Chris: Most definitely. Grasses of all sorts need water. They are waking up as well.
Sandy: Well, I can check my irrigation in about an hour. Tom, with your acreage, I suspect it takes all day. I certainly need more to do than that. Any other tasks we should take on this month for waking up landscaping?
Chris: Yes, Sandy. As I said, everything is waking up. The plants need not only water, but also food. This is a great month to feed all your plants.
Tom: There seems to be an endless diversity when it comes to fertilizer. The hype would lead us to believe each plant requires its own food.
Chris: You said it right, Tom: hype. There are so many that are specific for this or that plant type when all you really need is a good all-purpose fertilizer.
Sandy: What makes up fertilizer and why are there so many differences?
Chris: There are three basic components to any good, all-around fertilizer: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. They are known also as NPK, their periodic table symbols. The proportion of these in any mixture is the only difference. At Vicente Landscaping, we use a 10-10-10 mix. That would be 10 percent nitrogen, 10 percent phosphorus and 10 percent potassium. There are other good all-purpose ratios as well, such as 12-5-5 and a host of others. When you go to a garden center, just ask for a good all-purpose fertilizer. Knowledgeable garden people will understand and be able to direct you to an appropriate product.
Tom: I get the fertilizer, put it on individual plants and the lawn, water and we have the start of a good growing season. Pretty basic, as the plants wake up, we feed and water them.
Sandy: Good advice. So, what about my vegie garden? What tasks do we start with to wake up those veggies?
Chris: The best thing you can do is to prepare the soil for future planting. Tilling the soil and adding some fertilizer is a good start, and it will keep you out in the warm sunshine. Be careful though, DON’T plant your veggies yet. Temperatures are still getting close to, if not below, freezing. In this area, we have a rule of thumb that says we don’t plant tomatoes until Mother’s Day.
Tom: I understand our last frost date is May 15, so that tracks well. Sandy, if you like, you can start your garden inside by planting the seeds and give them time to start germinating.
Sandy: I could do that. Chris, any parting advice?
Chris: Yes, if you have pinon pine trees, this is the time of year that the scale eggs hatch and the scale insects move to the needles. The egg sack looks like a white cotton-like web at the tree base or trunk. It is best to physically remove these. Once on the pine needles, the scale have a wax-like protective coating that sprays really don’t penetrate.
Sandy: Chris, it was great having you join Tom and me. For our readers, the good news is that spring is here and as Chris said, now is the best time to work on waking up your plants, trees and shrubs. It is always wise as well to work with your/our local landscape professional to set the stage for healthy happy plants and soon you will be well on your way to get a thriving landscape you’ll enjoy for many months.
Tom: Remember, readers, quality lawn care and landscape professionals are important and finding the perfect one can be challenging. Those initial conversations you have with your landscape professional are essential for creating a beautiful outdoor space.
Sandy: Tom, you are right on and one word of advice that I can offer is how important it is to have a good understanding of what you want for your yard. Determining what you want your yard to be and how it will be used can help your landscape professional realize your vision.
Chris: One other important word of advice is to have a budget in mind when you meet with a landscape professional for assistance. We all know what it is like to dream and the dream will ultimately be your budget.
Sandy: The long weeks of winter are gone, so now is the perfect time to make plans for a gorgeous, spring lawn and landscape.
Thanks for stopping in “At Home with Tom and Sandy” and meeting our guest Chris Welborn, owner of Vicente Landscaping. You’re in good company and we love sharing educational, fun and important information with you. See you next month. QCBN
Tom Reilly, Architect, Contractor, Renovations 928-445-8506 renovationsaz.com
Sandy Griffis, Executive Director, Yavapai County Contractors Association. 928-778-0040.