Until the weather is no longer in danger of a frost leave the leaves alone. When the weather warms up you can lightly prune out the dead. Be patient, the plant will most likely revive itself. If the roots are very mushy and the plant can be easily moved in the soil, then you need to remove the plant. These plants may struggle through this season, but they should re-bound and be good as new next season. A good shot of Fertilizer never hurts.

Happy Spring! from Bell's Landscape Service

Spring tips:

Whether you are a Do-It-Yourself, or Hire a Contractor person, below you will find tips to help bring your landscape alive for the summer.
  • Prune your trees and Shrubs, cleanout the dead and winter damaged branches.
  • Fertilize trees and shrubs as necessary. Inspect for insects and disease, and treat as soon as possible.
  • Apply Pre-Emergent weed control over entire lawn. Inspects for insects and disease, this year they will be active earlier.
  • Begin routine maintenance; Mow, trim, edge the lawn areas. Water as necessary.
  • Remove weeds from planted bed area, Apply Pre-Emergent, and install Mulch in bed areas.

Now after the last Frost, you can begin installing Perennials, herbs and annual flowers. Along with giving them a good dose of fertilizer. Turn on the Irrigation System and check for leaks and broken heads. All this is part of a good Spring Cleanup, on the way to enjoying a Great Summer.

Lack of snow worries Michigan businesses/ homeowners

Okay, Detroit had its wettest year on record for 2011. The Metro Detroit area acquired 47.7” of precipitation, shattering a record from 1880. BUT………………….so far this winter season we trail behind. The warm weather pattern is setting our ornamental trees up for a big surprise. These trees may start to bud with the rising temperatures, then if we get a hard freeze the trees stand to become injured. We can avoid problems if the budding perennials get covered up with a blanket, straw or plastic tarp. This is something we will have to keep an eye on come springtime. The landscape uses snow as a blanket insulator.
Many other industries are affected by this warming season. Such as ice fishing, snow skiing, auto collision shops. Snow plow companies. No one wants a long winter, but winter has a purpose, so let’s have one.
In summary…..Lets’ Snow Dance!!!!!!

Winter Landscape Hints

Let’s face it, winter colors are white, gray and brown. The way to brighten the drab winter landscape is to plant evergreens (pines, spruce, firs) trees, and shrubs that possess colorful fruit or bark.
There are a variety of Crabapple trees, or Hawthorn trees, these trees produce flowers in the spring and fruit in the fall. Although these trees don’t produce fruit all winter, or look as attractive, they are a wonderful source of food for birds and squirrels.
Another way to add texture to the winter landscape is by planting trees with interesting bark. One example is Maple Paperback bark. This tree has cinnamon to reddish brown exfoliating bark. The bark appears to roll back off the trunk, a very distinctive tree.
One of the most beautiful sights in winter is the bright red twigs of Dogwood. These plants grown 6-10 feet tall. There are several varieties available.
Just remember when selecting trees and shrubs for the home landscape just don’t think about spring and summer….Remember winter landscape too!!

Fall - Landscape News

Fall is the best time of year to lay the ground work for next years lawn care season.
Bell’s Landscape Services,Inc. offers all the services necessary for Fall, all of which will benefit your grounds in the Spring.
Lawn Aeras: Continue to mow the lawn. Slow down on watering, the lawn areas do not require as much water in the fall. The weather is cooler and there is much more dew.Leaf pickup is also a necessary task for the fall. Rake the leaves now and have a much easier spring.
Aerate: This technique allows the grass to streghten the root system by pulling out plugs of turf. This allows better water penetration and reduce water runoff.
Fertilization: Fall fertilizers, one should be a weed and feed, and the other a slow release fertilizer which will give the roots strength in the spring. A very important element to a strong spring start.
Planting: Fall is a good time to install new plant material and to transplant small trees and shrubs. There is less heat stress, yet still enough time for them to establish a root system
Pruning: This is second time in the growing season to trim and shape up your plant material. Make sure all flowering trees/ shrubs have ceased flowering.
As a side note if any of your shrubs are exposed to roadways or high wind areas, it is a good idea to burlap wrap them to protect from snow, ice and salt damages.
Annuals: In Michigan fall is the time to remove the annual flowers before the frost kills them.
Perennials: Fall is a wonderful time to plant perennials. Also a very good time to split, divide exisiting perennial plants and replant to a new area. Planting bulbs to have spring color is another suggestion. Once the perennials have stopped flowering, it is time to cut them back. Cut the plant just a couple of inches above ground level.
Winterization: It is very important to winterize the sprinkler system. If water is left in the lines you will ruin the system. It can be repaired, but is very costly. Having the system blown out is very reasonable. Do this before the first frost.

Tips for getting started on a landscape

August 2, 2011

1. PLAN:
Draw up a Landscape Deisgn on paper before you start your project. This allows you to have a materials list, equipment list, and a cost anyalisis of the project. Theres always a good chance you will have to do the landscape in phases, and this will allow you to divide the work out.

Even if you want to do the landscape installation yourself, the small amount of money you spend for the professional landscape design and opinions will be invaluable at the end. There is no use planting shrubs, flowers, etc. in an area that isn’t right for them. Color, and texture are key to a beautiful landscape.

Don’t get discouraged if you can’t complete the landscape project at once. Installing the landscape in phases is a common practice. Hence, the Landscape Design.

Club stores and Big Box stores may offer good prices on some materials, but the quality is not always the same as from a licensed nursery stock dealer. Hardscapes (i.e. Brickpavers, Concrete) may look easy to do, but the sub-structure is very important to the longevity of the project. This is an area best left to the professionals.

If you can get a neighbor to help you out, and you can help them , the two of you can share in the cost of equipment rental. Also you could get a break on materials delivered to the site. And the results are two better looking homes.
Ways to avoid heat stress on your lawn
July 19, 2011
July and August can become a problem for your lawns during these periods of Heat and Humidity.
The sunshine is bright, the nights are warm and rain is infrequent. These combinations call for extra watering, but you have to be careful, because excessive moisture can lead to dieases.
The spring was the time to prepare the lawn for the summer heat. During the summer, grass utilizes the energy stored in its root system, which allows the lawn to sustain, but shrinking the root system, making the lawn vulnerable. Below you will find Tips for Aiding with Summer Stress:
1.) Raise the mowing height, and try to stay off the lawn as much as possible.
2.) During periods of dry weather, the lawn needs to recieve 1.5-2 inches of water per week. It is best to water in the morning, give a good soaking. But on very hot days, water in the heat of the day (between 3-5p.m.) This will cool the grass blades off. Compare it to cooling your own skin down.
3.) Be on the lookout for increased weeds and insects. When the lawn is stressed it becomes more susceptible to these problems.
Here are a couple of pictures to show what heat stress/ drought might look like.

Guide to watering your Plants and Lawn

June 22, 2011
In regards to Plants and Trees it is important to wet the root zone everytime. There is an easy, 1,2,3 Rule when it comes to watering:
1.) Water small plants (i.e ground cover, annuals) to the depth of 1 foot.
2.) Water medium plants ( i.e. shrubs) to the depth of 2 foot
3.) Water large plants ( i.e. trees) to depth of 3 foot.
A good way to check to see if your soil is moist, is to get a soil probe. Although you can purchase these probes, it really isn't necessary. You can simply get a metal rod or a long screwdriver. One hour after you have watered your bed area or your lawn, simply stick the probe into the soil. If you can push it into the soil easily there is enough water. If it is difficult to stick into the soil, then the soil is too dry and additional watering is necessary.
After your plants are established most of the water abosorbing roots are beneath the outer edge of the plants canopy. They are not close to the trunk or stem like you may think. Because of this, you can water around the canopy of the plant/tree and the water will spread downward hydrating as it soaks the soil and roots. Most plants have a horizontal root structure, so the roots will be getting the water they need.
Lawn Watering: Grass should be watered to a depth of 6-10". Again using the probe system to test the soil is the best way to monitor moisture. One hour after watering the lawn, try the probe, if it is easily fitting down into the soil, there is enough water, if it's difficult it's too dry and needs more water. Keep in mind the average pop-up sprinkler head applies .4" of water in a 15 minute period. And an impact sprinkler head .2" of water in a 15 minute period. This is a just a guide to finding the right amount of moisture. Keep in mind different soil types will have different results. In hot weather it is best to water the grass in the hotest part of the day, just like humans like to cool their skin, the living plant/ grasses do too!
LAWN: Wondering about the seedheads in your lawn? Even though our cool spring has delayed the production of the seedheads, they are beginning to show up. For those of you that think the seedhead is going to reseed your lawn, think again. It takes approximately 4 months for the seed to reach maturity, then they would have to have time to dry out and harvest, meaning reaching soil to germinate.
It is the best time to fertilize when you see the seedheads, because the lawn is thinnest at this time. The best way to fill in thin lawn areas is to buy the seed and apply to area.
PRUNING: Early spring- flowering trees and shrubs, such as lilac, azelea,dogwood, should be pruned about 4 weeks after the flowers have faded out. Cut back spring bulb foliage after it is browned or yellowed but never before. You can however remove spent flower stalks after the blooms are done.
PLANTINGS: Wait till you are sure the danger of frost is gone. Then plant annuals, flower boxes and hanging baskets. You may want to try to grow container vegetable gardens too, this is the time to start them.
MULCHING: Springtime is a great time to install mulch to planted bed areas. Bark mulch is the most enviormentally friendly, and adds many nutrients to the planted bed areas. Prepare the beds by applying a product like, Preen, this helps keep the area weed free for about a 4-6 month period.


Native plants for Michigan landscapes:

Part 1 – TreesNative plants are a great addition to the landscape to provide a thrifty, no-nonsense landscape for years to come.

Published April 5, 2011

Mary Wilson, Michigan State University Extension
This is Part 1 in a two-part series on Native Trees and Shrubs for the Michigan Landscape.
Beautiful landscapes begin with a strong foundation of woody trees and shrubs. Beyond the popular array of easy-to-find exotic plants, there are many native plants that can provide natural beauty and enhanced habitat for wildlife. When properly selected and placed, native plants also benefit our environment through reduced water use and less need for pesticides and fertilizers. To top it all off, native plants can result in lower long term maintenance costs, increased plant hardiness and less work.
A word of caution when considering natives: Native plant promotions sometimes claim the benefit of “no care” and “no maintenance.” Unfortunately, this isn’t true. While we would all love a no-work garden, just like any plant in your landscape, native plants do require care.

What’s Native?

These plants naturally occur in a particular region, ecosystem or habitat without human intervention. These plants were present at the time Europeans arrived in North America. Some people have a very narrow geographic focus for their definition of “native” while some are content as long as the plant is native to North America. Regardless of your definition, there are many plants to choose from. In fact, gardeners may be surprised to discover that some popular trees and shrubs (i.e. honeylocust, Kentucky coffeetree, Juneberry, potentilla, ninebark, and several viburnums) are actually native to Michigan.

Being Successful

The key to success with native plants is carefully choosing plants that match your site conditions. While some native plants are tremendously adaptable to a wide range of environmental conditions, many are quite habitat-specific. Before you start selecting plant material, know your site, including the exposure, soil texture, pH, fertility, moisture conditions, weed problems, and the history of use. Try to match the site’s conditions to the plant’s natural habitat. Some discrepancies can be corrected with soil amendments, mulching, fertilization, and other techniques, but these solutions may not overcome a poor match between your selected plant and site.
Remember that while your landscape may be in the plant’s native range, it is important to understand that most residential sites, particularly in urban areas, no longer resemble original site conditions. Soil may have been disturbed or subsoil placed on the surface. Sites may have been further altered through compaction, pollution, salt runoff and removal of canopy trees that use to provide shade. The survival and growth potential of native species in these conditions may be no better or worse than non-native species.
For urban gardens, consider plants that are native to wet soils. Many plants native to river bottomlands are surprisingly adaptable to urban conditions. In their natural environment, these plants experience extreme fluctuations in soil moisture and oxygen. Researchers have found that these plants often can adapt to compacted, overly dry, or overly wet soils that are common to urban areas.
Here are a few examples of native trees and shrubs to consider for Michigan landscapes.
White Oak (Quercus alba), 60 feet tall. Pyramidal when young, upright rounded to broad-rounded habit with wide spreading branches at maturity. Foliage is dark green changing to wine-red in fall. Slower growing and more difficult to transplant than the other oaks but not as susceptible to insects and diseases and grows on a wide range of soil types.
Stately, mature white oak in early spring.
Stately, mature white oak in early spring.
Photo credit: Martin MacKenzie, Bugwood.org.
Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa), 50-70 feet tall. Tough plant found in a variety of site conditions from seasonally wet to dry, open to shaded. Yellow-brown fall color. More tolerant of urban pollutants than other oaks.
Young bur oak.
Young bur oak.
Photo credit: Nancy Lowenstein, Bugwood.org.
Red Oak (Quercus rubra), 60 feet tall. Quick-growing and best on moist, well-drained, forested sites. Leaves emerge a pink-red in spring, turning a dark green above and paler beneath in summer. Autumn brings beautiful, red leaf color. Long-lived, strong-wooded. More cold-tolerant than black or white oaks and provides a stately form in winter.
Red oak displaying beautiful red fall color.
Red oak displaying beautiful red fall color.
Photo credit: Mary Wilson.
Kentucky Coffeetree (Gymnocladus dioicus), 50 feet tall. Huge compound leaves give this tree a tropical feel, while the arching branches present an elm-like form. Picturesque in winter with deeply furrowed bark and stout branches. Prefers deep moist soil but is adaptable to adverse conditions. Excellent cold hardiness and no known pest problems. Tolerant to drought and urban conditions.
Mature Kentucky coffeetree in fall.
Mature Kentucky coffeetree in fall.
Photo credit: Mary Wilson.
Black Gum (Nyssa sylvatica), 30-40 feet tall. Slow-growing with lustrous foliage that transforms to vivid shades of orange, scarlet and yellow in autumn. Dark, blochy bark and unique branching pattern provides winter interest. Fruit readily eaten by birds and squirrels. Low-maintenance and tolerates wet, clay soils as well as salt. Slow to establishing urban areas; native areas –moderately fast. Excellent specimen tree.
Young black gum in urban park.
Young black gum in urban park.
Photo credit: Mary Wilson.
Fall color on black gum tree.
Fall color on black gum tree.
Photo credit: Mary Wilson.
Hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana), 40 feet tall. Medium-sized trees noted for its fruit, which resemble clusters of hops. Considered difficult to transplant but very tough once established. Useful in dry locations for lawns, parks, naturalized areas and street trees.
Hophornbeam growing along street in Michigan.
Hophornbeam growing along street in Michigan.
Photo credit: Mary Wilson.
Hop-like fruit of Hophornbeam tree.
Hop-like fruit of Hophornbeam tree.
Photo credit: Mary Wilson.
Serviceberry, Juneberry (Amelanchier laevis and A. canadensis) – 20’ - Excellent landscape plant that is easy to grow. Provides year-round interest and excellent edible fruit. Great in the naturalized border, specimen plant or along the foundation. Full sun to partial shade; understory tree seen throughout the countryside when it’s in flower.
Juneberry in early spring.
Juneberry in early spring.
Photo credit: Rebecca Finneran.
Edible blueberry-like fruit of Juneberry.
Edible blueberry-like fruit of Juneberry.
Photo credit: Mary Ellen Harte, Bugwood.org.
Alternate Leaved Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia), 15-20 feet all. Frequently overlooked for landscape consideration. Offers a wonderful horizontal branching pattern that works great to break up vertical elements in the landscape. Plant bears clusters of small white flowers and bluish-black berries. Leaves turn reddish in fall. Prefers partial shade but does well in full sun.
Alternate-leaved dogwood in May.
Alternate-leaved dogwood in May.
Photo credit: Steve Katovich, Bugwood.org.
Common Paw Paw (Asimina triloba), 15 feet tall. Small tree with a short trunk and spreading branches forming a dense pyramid or round topped head. Often suckers. Large, dark green summer foliage gives the tree a tropic appearance. Edible brownish-black fruit taste similar to a banana, high in vitamins A and C. Plant more than one for pollination. Can be used for naturalizing or along the water’s edge.
Large leaves of Paw Paw in summer.
Large leaves of Paw Paw in summer.
Photo credit: David J. Moorehead, Bugwood.org.
Edible fruit of Paw Paw.
Edible fruit of Paw Paw.
Photo credit: Rebecca Finneran.