Category Archives: Newsletter

Fun Citrus Facts

Arizona is one of only four states, including California, Texas and Florida, able to grow citrus in the United States.  Citrus trees are an important part of the Phoenix area sights and smells. Stroll around the neighborhood, especially in February and March, and enjoy the sweet scent of citrus blossoms in the air.

Fun Citrus Facts

  • The first citrus tree in Arizona was planted in 1889 by William J. Murphy to supply the miners in CA to combat scurvy.
  • Citrus production in Arizona peaked around 1970 with 80,000 acres in production
  • Due to urban development, only about 20,000 acres are now in production in Arizona
  • Citrus are considered Evergreens as they keep their green leaves year round
  • There is more fiber in an orange than in most other fruits and vegetables
  • One lemon contains a full day’s supply of vitamin C with 33% in the peel.
  • Grapefruit can help lower cholesterol.
  • A citrus tree blooms while also bearing fruit
  • Citrus fruits can be left on the tree without becoming over ripe. Fruit does not continue to ripen once picked. The longer citrus fruit ripens on the tree, the sweeter and less acidic it will be.
  • Most trees flower in February and March.
  • With proper care, a citrus tree is capable of producing fruit for over 50 years. Proper care includes good quality root stock selection, correct planting in the right location, proper water and fertilizer, and protection from diseases, pests and harsh weather.

Care of Citrus Trees

Planting:

Citrus trees can be planted year-round but the best months to plant are March, April and October.

Watering:

Citrus trees fare the best if they are heavily watered and then allowed to dry out between drenchings. Typically, trees will need to be watered every one to two weeks in summer and every three to four weeks in the winter. Try not to water trees a little bit every few days to avoid salt build up in the soil.

Fertilizing:

Citrus trees should be fertilized in March, June and September. Do not fertilize after October as it encourages tender new growth during winter when there is danger of frost.

Pruning:

Prune citrus trees to eliminate sprouts, remove weak, crossing or dead branches, or to allow more light in the tree canopy. February through April are the best months to prune citrus in the Phoenix area. Protect exposed wood from the sun using a citrus whitewash.

Contact Goodman’s Landscape Maintenance at (602) 861-1144 for your citrus care needs.

Facts provided with help from Greenfield Citrus, Arizona Cooperative Extension, and Arizona Experience.

December Plant and Critter of the Month

Plant of the Month – Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera bridgessil)

Christmas Cactus bloomingThis tropical hybrid traces it’s heritage back to the coastal regions of Brazil, where it’s parent’s are found growing between large tree limbs or in steep rock crevices that have collected debris.

Available in a wide variety of colors they come in red, purple, orange, pink, fuschia, cream as well as other colors.

Christmas Cactus FlowerThis plant requires indirect light (direct light will harm the plant), well drained soil and humidity to thrive. For the best results, place it where it will receive indirect light, but no light during the night (not even artificial light). Select a spot that meets its needs, and it will reward you for years to come!

planter bucketProper potting is similar to Orchids. The inner basket should be a type that allows the soil to absorb water from all sides (as pictured to the left) and allow for excellent drainage. The outer pot should be water tight, and allow some space around the inner pot. Put about 1 inch or more gravel or rock at the bottom of the outer pot so that the inner basket is not sitting directly on the bottom of the outer pot. To generate humidity, add water to about 1/2 the depth of the rock in the outer pot periodically. Use your finger to guage your watering schedule. If the top 1 inch of soil is dry, it’s time to water again. Do not water from the top, remove the inner pot and soak the plant so water absorbs evenly through soil.

In the right environment this tropical beauty can flower several times a year, but the key to getting it to bloom during the holiday season is to water less frequently. Also make sure it gets at least 12 hours of darkness (that means no natural or artificial light), and locate it in coolest spot in your home, but not near entry doors or where vents blow directly on it.

Christmas CactiAfter the holidays let it rest for about 30 days. Keep it in cooler temperatures, limit its water and make sure it gets its dark time. It is ok if it appears weak and loses a few leaves or joints during this period. Do not pinch back or shape until March or early April. Repot every 2 to 3 years in Feb, March or April, like it’s parents, this plant does the best growing in a confined space with good drainage. With proper care, this plant is long lived and can be handed down from generation to generation.

Critter of the Month – Northern Cardinal

Male Cardinalfemale cardinalThese birds do not migrate, and the female cardinal is one of the few female North American birds who actually vocalize in song. Most female North American birds do not sing. Their main food source is seeds and fruit, however they do supplement their diet with insects. The male is extremely territorial, but never more so then during mating time. He will even fight his reflection in a window for hours on end! The most common sound Cardinals are identified by is a metallic sounding “chip”. However, if you listen, you may also be privileged to hear clear, slurred whistled phrases of several phrase types which male and female combine into different songs.

How to Prevent Frost Damage in Phoenix Winters

Frost DamageMost people in the Phoenix Metropolitan area do not pay much attention to cooler temperatures until they start to see damage in their landscape. This can be a costly error in judgment as severe cold damage can be mitigated by simply covering plants on the few days when cooler nighttime temperatures are forecasted. According the University of Arizona, the average first frost date ranges from November 21st to December 12th and the average last frost date ranges from February 7th to April 3rd.

Professional Grade Frost Prevention

Goodman’s sends out a yearly frost damage alert to our customers in late October, early November advising them to pay attention to forecasts. A majority of our longer term customers have purchased professional grade frost cloth from us at some point, and store them in the off season for use on cooler nights. The advantage of professional grade frost cloth is that it can be left on for longer periods of time, thus avoiding the labor of taking it off after daybreak and putting it back on in the evening.

Frost Damage PreventionIf you have a lot of cold tender plants in your yard, you may be aware that putting on and taking off frost cloths can involve hours of time…particularly if you are installing them correctly. Proper installation means covering the plant from top to bottom, as shown in these pictures. Make sure that the cloth drapes down and is not tied at the base. Last year we had several people call after seeing damage, only to find out all suppliers were out of frost cloths. This resulted in a huge amount of plants needing to be replaced in the Spring.

Tips for Frost Damage Treatment

If you start to notice your plant’s fruit, leaves, shoots, stems, flowers, and/or flower buds dying during the winter season, you can most likely attribute it to frost damage. Some people might have the desire to prune the frost-damaged plant right away, however, this is not recommended because it could stimulate new growth that would be exposed to frost damage again. Also, even though the leaves and stems are damaged, they are still helping to keep warm air near the plant. It is best to prune during the spring when the plant has already started to show new growth. If the entire plant seems damaged and the new growth is only at the root level, you will probably need to either cut down the existing dead plant to make room for the new growth or replace the plant all together.

Do not use smudge pots, mulch, or chemicals to try and keep your plants warm. As mentioned above, investing in professional grade frost cloths is the best way to prevent frost damage.

Do Your Plants Have Frost Damage?

If your landscape has experienced frost damage this winter, please contact Goodman’s today for a free estimate on replacing your plants with frost-damage tolerant plants. We can also provide you with a landscape maintenance plan that will keep your yard looking beautiful and fresh. We also provide landscaping in Scottsdale and surrounding areas.

Happy Thanksgiving – Irrigation Part and Plant of the Month

Happy ThanksgivingWith sincere thanks and deeply felt gratitude to all of our customers, everyone at Goodman’s Landscape Maintenance join in sending you and your family our wishes for a bountiful and very Happy Thanksgiving!

We are grateful for all of the amazing work that everyone does here at Goodman’s and to our customers. We wouldn’t be here without your continued support!

Texas Mountain Laurel (Sophora secundiflora)

Other names include: Mescal Bean, Texas Mescalbean, Frijolito, and Frijolillo. This evergreen shrub or small tree grows to about 12 feet high, it has smooth bark, and its dark green oval leaflets are 1-2 inches long. It blooms from February to April, and it produces Wisteria-like lavender-blue flowers in 4 to 8 inch clusters. The silvery gray 1 to 8 inch seed pods open when ripe exposing red seeds. These small tree often times produce multiple trunks. Keep them in full sun or light shade. They tolerate Arizona alkaline well-drained soils. When moving a Texas Mountain Laurel, make sure to not disturb the root ball.

Texas Mountain Laurel

All parts of the Texas Mountain Laurel are toxic, however it’s the seeds that pack the highest concentration. If ingested, among other symptoms, you can expect to see profuse salivation, weakness, impaired vision and a slow heart rate.

Why is it in our landscapes?

It’s small size, Wisteria-like blooms, grape Kool-Aid / grape bubblegum scent and overall ornamental appeal make it a popular plant for small spaces. Avoid planting in areas where children or pets spend unsupervised time.

Irrigation Valve Solenoid – Irrigation Part of the Month

A solenoid is a component of a solenoid valve. Its basic function is converting electrical energy to mechanical energy. A small electrical current is sent to the solenoid spring, causing the spring inside to essentially become a tiny magnet. Coiling tighter as a result of the magnetic field it pulls a tiny piston backward, sealing off the hole that allows air into the chamber. With the release of air pressure, a diaphragm is pushed aside by incoming water which passes through the valve to feed the irrigation lines. When the programmed amount of time ends, the electrical feed is halted and the process reverses. You can usually tell a solenoid is malfunctioning because it’ll make a distinct “click” and hum or vibrate when it is activated.irrigation valve solenoid

How to change a broken irrigation valve solenoid:

  1. Disconnect both wires connected to the solenoid.
  2. Turn solenoid counter-clockwise until free of the valve.
  3. Screw in new solenoid by turning clockwise, hand tighten only, be careful not to over-tighten.
  4. Connect both wires to new solenoid using waterproof wire caps.

Goodman’s Landscape Maintenance has full-time irrigation repair and installation crews that are ready to help you with your next project. Contact us to learn more about our irrigation services in your local Phoenix and Scottsdale area.

Top 3 Reasons to Purchase a “To Scale” Landscape Plan

to scale landscape design plan
What is a “To Scale” Landscape Design Plan?
Some landscape design contractors will provide an attractive landscape drawing for you to look at, however, when everything isn’t to scale, looks can be deceiving. For example, lets say that they provide a design that has 3 larger trees, 2 bushes, and a fountain. It may sound perfect, until everything is installed in your yard. Depending on how large your yard is, it could look too busy or it could look empty. Proportions are very important to understand when you are trying to visualize what your future landscape could look like. Another example is the amount of rock or grass to be used. In a drawing that isn’t to scale, you really have no idea how much rock or grass is actually going to be used. The contractor could potentially reduce the cost on his end by not providing you with the amount of rock you thought your yard was going to have.

Reason #1:
A “To Scale” landscape plan ensures that your vision and your landscape designer’s interpretation of your vision are congruent. If you have strong preferences about the look of your landscape (which I am sure most of you do), you want to provide your designer website and magazine pictures showing examples of what you want. Another good idea is to provide the designer with actual material samples. This will ensure that the preliminary design drawing is as close to the finished design drawing as possible. Most companies have a limit as to how many revisions are included in the price of landscape plan drawing. If you exceed that amount, there may be an extra charge for additional revisions, so it is best to clearly describe what you are looking for the first time the best that you can.

Reason #2:
When you have a to scale landscape plan you will be able to obtain apples to apples competitive pricing for the work. This is VERY important. If you don’t have a plan that spec’s out all the details, you may get lower pricing from some contractors, but that pricing will not be for the same amount of work or materials. It is best practice to get no more than three bids after you have done your research on the three companies by checking BBB statuses, licensing, reviews, and references.

Reason #3:
If you don’t have the budget to have all of the work completed at the same time, a landscape plan allows you to have the work done in stages. This will better allow you to maintain a cohesive look throughout the various stages. Make sure you have the work done in stages that make sense. For instance, you wouldn’t want to have all of the paver work done before the irrigation goes in. Experienced landscape contractors will be able to suggest possible stages and why they make sense. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and really understand why parts of the landscape need to be on hold while others are finished up. It is best to have all of the materials purchased in quantities needed to complete the entire project. You want to make sure that the materials used in the 1st stage are from the same batch, and are available at the 2nd or 3rd stage of the project. Otherwise, there could be noticeable differences in the materials or the supplier could run out, leaving your yard undone until they are able to get another shipment in.  Buying the materials in bulk also allows you take advantage of sales or volume discounts.

Have Goodman’s Landscape provide you with “to scale” landscape design plan for your backyard and receive $25.00 off. Save an additional $15.00 if you get the front yard landscape plan at the same time. Contact us today to schedule a free consultationThis offer can’t be combined with other offers and expires 12/31/2013.

Happy Halloween – Plant and Critter of the Month

happy halloweenHappy Halloween from all of us at Goomdan’s! There is cooler weather just around the corner along with the trick or treaters. A fun pre-Halloween event is having a pumpkin carving party. Start with a family trip to your local pumpkin patch to pick out several pumpkins. Let your children draw a design, or trace stencils on the pumpkins as a guideline for carving. They can also scoop out the interiors and sort through the mess to pull out the seeds. The seeds then get washed and put on a tray for toasting in the oven. The seeds toast fairly quickly and can be used as a party snack. Leave the carving to the adults.

Texas Firecracker Bush (Hamelia patens) – Plant of the Month

Texas Firecracker BushThis lovely tropical plant blooms from spring to fall. As an added bonus when cooler fall temperatures prevail it’s normally bright green foliage gets a lovely bronzy tinge to it. As with all tropical type plants it will suffer damage if temperatures dip too low. Plant it in area that will get some respite from the sun in the afternoon hours when the sun is at it’s most intense. At maturity this shrub is about 3 to 4 feet high and wide. If you’ve planted it in an area where it’s size will be an asset, it will require little to no pruning. The flowers are tubular and do not open more than pictured at right. Humming- birds love this plant! It’s also rumored to have a some homeopathic properties. Click here for more information.

Gambel’s Quail (Callipepla gambelii) – Critter of the Month

Gregarious and social, Gambel’s quail form covey’s in the fall and winter to forage for seeds, grasses, fruits, berries, cacti and other herbaceous material. Population size is directly correlated to the amount of rainfall during the previous October through March. The more rainfall the higher the population. Makes sense right? The more rainfall, the more food available.

Gambel's QuailGambel’s breed in spring and early summer and chicks hatch, all in the same day, approximately 3 weeks after eggs are laid. Baby quail emerge at about 1 inch tall and are able to see, walk and eat soft vegetation immediately. As soon as the group has their strength, their parents lead them off to forage for more food. Although mortality rates for offspring are high, Gambel’s make up for it by laying between 10 to 12 eggs per nest.

Unlike other birds, Gambel’s love dry baths. Bath time consists of scratching and pecking to create loose soil. Then they hunker down in it, and quickly fluttering their wings to spread dirt throughout their feathers. When they emerge from their bath, they puff out all their feathers and shake vigorously sending dust and dirt flying. They may complete the entire cycle several times if undisturbed. If you live in an area they frequent and feel safe in, your flower beds and pots make an ideal bathing/snacking spot due to the looser and slightly moist soil and foliage. Inexperienced mother’s may even consider your pots or flower beds the ideal nesting/nursery.

Winter Flowers October Special From Goodman’s Landscape

Winter Flowers in Pots

If you haven’t already, it’s time to put your winter annuals in. What can we say about annuals that we haven’t said before? They are just fantastic, and bring that certain “Je ne sais quoi” to a property that nothing else can take the place of.

If you think of a particularly memorable spot, chances are flowers of some type were lurking nearby. In general, annuals are easy to care for, and are relatively inexpensive for the amount of “oomph!” they provide. Some of our customers purchase their own flowers, lay them out and have us install them, and others leave the choice, pick up, delivery, and design up to us. Either way, our customers reap the enjoyment and compliments from friends and families.

Always plant for a mature size, and pay attention to the flower’s label as to whether to plant in “full sun”, “part sun”, “part shade”, or “full shade” (although, very few flowers require full shade). In pots, taller flowers should be planted Flowers by Fountainin the center, medium-sized next, and then short or trailing flowers. For beds, taller flowers should be planted in the back, then medium-sized, and finally short or trailing flowers should be planted at the front edge of the bed. You can also alternate tall and medium as shown in the fountain picture to the right. To reduce cost, pick up a few perennials for pot centers, or to intersperse in larger flower beds.

October Promotion (expires 11/30/2013):

Never had flower beds or pots installed before? Hire Goodman’s to design and install your beds and/or pots, and we’ll install a full flat of flowers for FREE! This is a $65.00 value. There is a two flat minimum to qualify for a third free flat and you property must be within our service area. This offer can’t be combined with any other coupons. Please call us to take advantage of this one-time special promotion to make your landscape even more beautiful.

The Benefits of Lawn Aeration in Phoenix, AZ

scottsdale lawn aeration

Lawn aeration is the best way to facilitate gas/air exchange and water/nutrient absorption. Soil compaction and other soil conditions that occur naturally over time can make it hard for your lawn to thrive without periodic aeration.

To compound the problem, thatch buildup can act as a barrier preventing water and other crucial nutrients from penetrating to the lawn’s root zone.

Aeration works best when a machine specially designed for this task is used (a mechanical core aerator). The machine removes small plugs of soil and places them on top of your lawn, leaving holes that allow nutrients and water to reach the root system.

The process strengthens and invigorates the roots, resulting in a thicker, healthier lawn. While some of our customers request that the plugs be removed, we do not recommend it. The soil from the plugs contain beneficial fungi and bacteria that aid in the decomposition of the thatch layer and are considered a valuable top dressing for your lawn.

grass aeration scottsdale

How do you know if you need to aerate your lawn? Well, the obvious answer is that if you notice that your lawn isn’t in tip top shape. Another method is to dig up a section of your grass with a shovel to about 5 or 6 inches deep to see if the grass roots are further than 2 inches deep into the soil. If they don’t, then your lawn would benefit from lawn aeration. It is common for grass areas that are exposed to a lot of foot or vehicle traffic to need aeration more than other areas because it is more likely to become more compacted. It isn’t recommended to aerate a lawn that has been sodded or seeded within the last year of planting.

Water your lawn thoroughly for one or two days before you plan on aerating in order to help the aerator penetrate the soil more easily. Make sure you mark various sprinkler heads and other objects that might get in the way of the aeration. You only need to go over your lawn one time with the aerator.

For Arizona residents, aerating winter grass in September to October is a good time because it allows your grass to break dormancy and the grass is actively growing. For summer lawns, it is good to aerate around the months of May and June.

Let Goodman’s Landscape Maintenance help you with your lawn and grass aeration this winter. Call today to learn more about our various Paradise Valley, Phoenix, and Scottsdale landscape maintenance options.

What is Lawn Scalping and Thatch?

What is Lawn Scalping?

lawn scalpingIn terms of preparing a lawn for overseeding, scalping is lowering the level of the Bermuda lawn to allow Rye seeds better access to soil and sun after it’s been spread. The best practice is to set the mower on a progressively lower setting each time the lawn is mown until the desired height is reached – approx. 1/4 to 1/2”. At Goodman’s, we encourage our customers to authorize their winter lawn estimate as early as the end of August, so that we can begin lowering their lawn over several services in preparation for overseeding in October, rather in a single visit, which much less desirable for the health of the Bermuda.

When you mow your lawn properly, it will not only increase the quality and health of your lawn, but it will also decrease the amount of weeds. For the best looking lawn, it is recommended to mow on a weekly basis. It is always a good idea to keep your mower blades nice and sharp. Lastly, don’t forget to mow your lawn in different patterns each time in order to reduce overall wear and tear of your grass. This will keep your grass looking nice and healthy.

What is Lawn Thatch?

lawn thatchAll grass has a layer of thatch that exists between the bottom of your grass and the soil —basically dead grass roots and stems. A thin layer of thatch is desirable because it insulates your grass from extreme temperatures and acts as a cushion to help your lawn withstand foot traffic.

thatch

However, if thatch accumulates to more than one-half inch in thickness, it can put your lawn at risk of drought because the water saturates the thatch instead of the soil and root system, leading to insect infestations or other lawn issues.

Thatching is the removal of detrimental thatch, and requires a special machine called a dethatcher or power rake to remove it. It is important that you set the blades to run at about 1/4” above the soil. The goal is remove the thatch, not the soil. Flag all of your lawn heads so they readily visible and you can maneuver around them with the machine. Otherwise, you will have a potential irrigation accident on your hands.

Before you begin removing a large amount of thatch, remember that if you start removing smaller amounts, it is always possible to remove more later, however, if you start removing too much, it isn’t possible to add more thatch after it has already been removed. Starting with smaller is the safer route. If your thatch has grown quite a bit (about two inches or more), it is likely that the root systems of the grass are in the thatch layer, that means that you will have to plan to overseed these areas after thatching. It isn’t recommended to remove thatch if your lawn is weak or under drought stress. Otherwise, it is quite possible that your grass won’t be able to recover fully. It is OK to remove thatch late summer/early fall.

Do you Need Help with Lawn Scalping or Thatching in Phoenix, Arizona?

Call Goodman’s, the Phoenix yard and lawn maintenance experts. We can provide you with a fast and friendly lawn care estimate today. Please give us a call at 602-861-1144.

Winter Lawn Overseeding in Phoenix, Arizona

Winter Lawn Phoenix AZ

Arizona residents are lucky, unlike other parts of the country, you have a choice whether to keep your lawn green all year, or to let it go dormant. Most people do chose to keep it green. In addition to being more esthetically pleasing than a straw colored lawn, maintaining a healthy green lawn all year provides the added benefit of keeping weeds from getting a foothold in your lawn.

It is important that you make the decision early on, so you can properly prepare your lawn for overseeding. At Goodman’s, we start the discussion with our customers in August, so that we can begin transitioning their lawns in September for installation in October. Waiting until your Bermuda lawn goes dormant naturally before overseeding is not a good idea. Good seed germination takes sun (warmth), adequate water and contact with soil. You want to make sure temperatures are still warm enough to help with germination. There is only a small window of opportunity each year when conditions are ideal, which is why it is so important to plan ahead. Late season installations should be avoided.

Winter Lawn Overseeding

Warm season grasses like Bermuda go dormant and turn blondish/brown when soil temperatures fall below 60 degrees farenheit. If you want your lawn to remain green you must overseed the Bermuda with our cooler season grass, Rye. Perennial Ryegrass is preferred to annual Ryegrass for winter because it’s blade is darker green, hardier, finer and easier to mow.

Do not overseed a Bermuda lawn unless it has been established for at least three months. Overseeding is also not recommended for St. Augustine lawns. If you have Zoysia, use half the recommended seeding rate. For shaded lawn areas overseeding with Fescue is recommended.

How To Install A Winter Lawn in Phoenix, Arizona

1) Stop fertilizing 4 to 6 weeks prior to overseeding your Bermuda lawn, and cut back on watering.

2) If needed, dethatch lawn lightly. Thatch is dead grass below the green part of the lawn and above the soil. Set the dethatcher blades to run at about 1/4” above the soil. DO NOT dig into the soil, you may damage the root structure of your Bermuda, and you DO want it to fill back in next year when the Rye dies. Remember to run the dethatcher in two directions.

3) Rake the removed thatch into piles and dispose of it.

4) The next step is scalping. This lowers the height of the Bermuda, making it easier for the Rye see to receive the sunlight/warmth it needs to germinate. If you are using a reel mower scalp to 1/4” to 1/2”. With a rotary mower 3/4” is acceptable.

5) Apply 10 to 15 lbs of seed per 1000 sq. ft. of lawn. Include a starter fertilizer with seed.

6) Rake or drag to ensure seed makes contact with soil.

7) Lightly cover seed with no more than 1/4” of weed and salt free organic mulch. Keep seeds damp by watering 3 to 4 times per day with light 5 to 7 minute durations. You want to avoid seed becoming dry, or overly saturated.

8) After germination (7-10 days), reduce watering frequency as needed. This is dependent upon the type of sprinkler heads you have, temperature, wind, and rain, and may vary from once every two weeks to every other day. Only water enough to avoid wilt between watering.

9) When grass is 2” tall (about 2 weeks) mow for the first time. Do not remove more than 1/3 of the blade at each mowing and make sure your mower blades have been recently sharpened. Allow germinated grass to establish deeper roots before mowing on a lower setting.

10) Two weeks after planting, fertilize your lawn using a balance fertilizer. Fertilize monthly, or as needed after that.

11) Apply iron & calcium nitrate at least once before frost.

Call Goodman’s

Keep your lawn looking beautiful year around. Let Goodman’s Landscape Maintenance provide you with a quote on installing winter lawn in your front or backyard. Give us a call today at 602-861-1144 for a friendly estimate today.