Keep Your Property Healthy By Avoiding Invasive Plant Species

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Invasive Species - Microstegium vimineum commonly known as Japanese stilt grass

Invasive Species – Microstegium vimineum commonly known as Japanese stilt grass

When spring arrives people in New Hampshire like to take time to beautify and improve their outdoor space. Through the introduction of new plants, shrubs, and trees, one can make their outdoor space healthier and more enjoyable. We at Belknap Landscape spend much of the spring helping clients choose, place, and install a wide variety of plant life, and we know this process can be as complicated as it can be fun.

When choosing plants, a homeowner or landscape professional may consider aesthetic, viability, or practical variables. It is also essential to be mindful of the plant species itself. Simply put, some plants, when introduced to your property, can be harmful or even illegal. Mindful selection of plant choice helps us to be good neighbors and stewards of the land, and contributors to the long-term health and beauty of the landscape. One reoccurring challenge is invasive plant species.

Avoiding invasive species

Invasive Species - Hesperus matronalis commonly known as Dames rocket

Invasive Species – Hesperus matronalis commonly known as Dames rocket

Invasive Species - Lonicera spp commonly known as Bush honeysuckles

Invasive Species – Lonicera spp commonly known as Bush honeysuckles

Invasive plant species, in particular, are problematic for both the property owner and the greater natural environment. When introduced, these plant species often out-compete and asa result overgrow native species. This has a detrimental effect on the ecosystem, which, in many cases, cannot be easily overcome. Responsible property owners and landscape professionals have a moral and legal obligation to be mindful of and not to introduce invasive plant species.

Spotting an invasive species isn’t easy. The sale of invasive species is illegal in New Hampshire, and local nurseries will not carry them. So how do they get in our state? Some potential sources include online purchases of plants, using inexperienced or out-of-state contractors, or transferring plants from out of state to properties in New Hampshire. Homeowners can arm themselves by becoming more informed and asking questions with their vendor or contractors.

Invasive Species - Euonymus alatus commonly known as Burning Bush

Invasive Species – Euonymus alatus commonly known as Burning Bush


Getting informed

Thankfully the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension has resources readily available to help understand, identify, and report invasive species. You can visit this article for more information on this vital subject.

Utilize this resource as a guide for plant selection, or to identify if you have an invasive species on your property. You’ll also see ways to help mitigate this problem and get involved in protecting our native plant species, and still enjoy a beautiful well planted outdoor space.

Photos provided courtesy of the NH Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food

Winter Damage Worsens As Spring Temperatures Climb

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We’ve observed yet more damage to evergreen plants as the result of winter injury. As temperatures increase, even more dried up leaves are appearing on stressed plant material.

winter damage

Note the undamaged foliage at bottom of plants where snow insulated plant tissues

The stage was set last summer with record breaking heat and drought. Trees and shrubs were weakened from severe stress. Root systems died back, resulting in reduced water storage needed to keep these plants from freezing this past winter.

As unfortunate as disfigured plant material is, many will not be lost outright. Follow-up care is essential in helping plants recover from the winter injury. These are some ways we can help;

  • Soil fertility. Applications of bio-stimulants not only help to nourish plants directly, but they also help create a proliferation of beneficial microbial activity which helps resiliency during stress periods. Fish hydrolysate, humic acid and seaweed extracts are excellent products for this purpose.
  • Irrigation. While sufficient water is critical, too much can be just as damaging as not enough! Although watering is not required at this time, pay attention when things get hot and dry as the season progresses. You should never be able to squeeze water out of a handful of soil.
  • Pruning. Some obviously dead limbs in trees and shrubs are apparent right now, but it’s probably best to hold off pruning them until later in the spring. Our hope is that dormant buds will sprout along bare stems, giving us better choices where to make quality pruning cuts.  
  • Antidessicant applications. There are materials that can be applied in the late fall or early winter that can decrease a plants ability to loose water during the winter. ‘Transpiration’ is a plants way of evaporating water vapor during the winter so that plant tissues do not freeze.
  • Protection from wind. Vulnerable plants can be shielded from drying winds with burlap. This takes place just before the onset of winter and is removed in the early spring of the following season.

Please feel free to contact us so we can evaluate your landscape plants. There are plenty of things we can do to help and protect your valuable landscape plants!

Winter Injury on Rhododendrons

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We’ve been observing wide spread winter injury on Rhododendron and Holly in the Lakes Region this spring as the snow and ice begin to recede. Cold drying winds over the past several months are partially to blame for the damage, but there are other factors which have certainly contributed to this plight.

Rhododendron Winter Damage

Desiccation is the evaporation of water in vapor form from foliage and plant stems. Although this is a year-round and daily occurrence, winter desiccation (also called winter burn) can be particularly stressful on broad leafed evergreens which are the most susceptible because they have a greater surface area through which to lose water compared to deciduous plants. When the ground is frozen solid and freezing temperatures are accompanied by high winds, the exposed plants continue to lose moisture without being able to replenish the supply.

In the two pictures, you’ll see that the foliage at the bottom of the plants is unaffected due to the snow cover protection from the wind. Evergreens that have suffered from winter desiccation typically have beige to brown leaf edges that are curled, or they may show red or purple discoloration.

Rhododendron Damage

The stage was set last summer with drought conditions, so broad leafed evergreens went into the winter with a major disadvantage. Younger plants with shallow root systems and plants that have suffered injury in prior years are the most vulnerable.  The plants survival is based on the moisture reserve stored up in the roots, branches and leaves.

We recommend delaying pruning chores a bit this spring so that the toll of winter injury can be properly assessed.  Dead tissue can be removed anytime, but cutting into live tissue leaves the remaining stem more vulnerable to further drying.  Be sure to wait until after shrubs leaf out if you are unsure whether or not a branch is still living. Corrective pruning along with recommended fertilization and proper watering will often help these plants recover.

Rhododendrons do not like soggy soil, so be careful not to overdo it on the watering.

Be on the Lookout for Emerald Ash Borer Damage

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We have been noticing damage on White Ash trees (Fraxinus americana) over the course of this winter, particularly in the southern lakes region. In the picture below, you will notice the light bark discoloration on the tree trunks. This discoloration is called ‘blonding’ which is the result of woodpeckers feeding on the Emerald Ash Borer larvae in the bark.

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The Evolution of Mowers: Interview with Belknap Landscape’s Andrew Morse

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Landscape Management released their February edition, which features articles about maintenance contracts, beautiful landscapes, types of fertilizers, and lawn mowers. These articles help prepare the top industry professionals for a busy spring season by releasing information about the latest in landscape technology. On the topic of the evolution of lawn mowers, Landscape Management asked landscape professionals, including our own Andrew Morse, for their knowledge about the topic. Over the years mowers have gotten faster, more efficient, and more accurate. With today’s technology, landscape companies can cut through most any lawn evenly and in only one or two runs. Years ago, this was not possible. Read More

Perhaps a Landscape Renovation is in Your Future?

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Winter time can be a great time to sit back and think about renovating your landscape or garden.  Visualize how you and your family use your outdoor space. Perhaps the patio isn’t quite large enough for entertaining 6-8 of your friends.  Perhaps the plantings along your walkways are overgrown and lack color. Perhaps the foundation plantings haven’t seen a refresh in 10-15 years or you inherited them with changes in ownership.

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The GREEN SnowPro Initiative – Road Salt Reduction

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The New Hampshire Certified Green SnowPro Program is a first-in-the-nation certification program that is helping to substantially reduce wintertime road salt applications, improve water quality, and provide valuable liability protection to local New Hampshire companies. The Program was developed to mitigate chloride pollution of watersheds (lakes, rivers, streams, and groundwater) in New Hampshire through the reduction of salt used in winter maintenance. Read More

Belknap Landscape Attends The 26th Annual Turfgrass Conference & Trade Show

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Several members of the Belknap team recently travelled to West Lebanon, NH to attend the Turfgrass Conference and Trade Show held annually by the Vermont Greenscape Association.  This popular northern New England event features exceptional industry-leading speakers along with vendors and exhibitors that are leading the industry in technology and best practices. Read More