JUNE 2014
A P U B L I C A T I O N O F T H E L A N D S C A P E C O N T R A C T O R S A S S O C I A T I O N M D •D C •V A
Consumers Seek Your Experience and Knowledge
How to Stop Your Customers From Destroying Your Green Industry Business
Blue Grasses Add Rhythm to the Garden
June 2014
President’s Message
Consumers Seek Your Experience
and Knowledge
14 How to Stop Your Customers From
Destroying Your Green Industry Business
17 Blue Grasses Add Rhythm to the Garden
21 Excellence in Landscape Profile
—Kensington Park
24 Japanese Beetles on the Rise Again in
30 Advertising Information
Plant of the Month
on the cover
Kagan Maintenance
Kane Landscapes, Inc.
Residential Maintenance
Blue Grasses Add Rhythm
to the Garden
“Feature” and “Plant of the Month” articles can also be found online under the
GROUNDWORK ARTICLE ARCHIVE section at: www.lcamddcva.org
3 JUNE 2014
Training Session #1
Agricultural History Farm Park
Derwood, MD
Training Session #2
Agricultural History Farm Park
Derwood, MD
Landscape Industry
Certified Technician
Written Test
Johns Hopkins University
Montgomery County Campus
9601 Medical Center Drive, Room 207
Rockville, MD
Landscape Industry
Certified Technician
Hands-on Test
Agricultural History Farm Park
Derwood, MD
Excellence in Landscape Awards Deadline
2014 LCA Awards Program
Gaithersburg Marriott
Washingtonian Center
Gaithersburg, MD
Dawn Rosenfeld ACCOUNTANT
The Landscape Industry Certified Technician Test
could not take place without the dedication of a
large number of volunteers. Whether for test site
preparation, training, or judging, test volunteers play
an extraordinary role in making the test a reality.
It is yet another way that LCA members provide a
community for the landscape industry. Volunteers
are recognized in Groundwork magazine each year.
If you are interested in volunteering, please contact
Lynn Turner at the LCA office.
Test Date: Saturday, August 2, 2014
Set-Up & Volunteer Orientation: Friday, August 1, 2014
must attend the
Sign up to volunteer!
Scott Brinitzer
Scott Brinitzer Design Associates, Inc.—(703) 892-0266
Josh Kane, CLT
Kane Landscapes, Inc.—(703) 803-3146
Michael McCartin
Joseph W. McCartin Insurance, Inc.—(301) 937-0400
Nannette Seven
Include Software—(800) 475-0311
Jeff Topley
Brickman—(703) 437-7270
Jeff Waters
Shemin Nurseries, Inc.—(301) 421-1220
Steve Wlodarczyk
Botanical Decorators, Inc.—(301) 948-6625
Call for Volunteers
Volunteers who are Landscape Industry Certified will
earn CEUs toward their PLANET recertification.
Matt Owens, MBA, LIC—President
PGC Landscape—(301) 874-5940
Matt Glover, CLT—Vice President
Bloomstead Landscapes—(240) 252-3111
Kevin O’Neill—Secretary/Treasurer
Great American Landscapes, Inc.—(301) 972-5681
Ken Thompson—Immediate Past President
Ruppert Landscape—(571) 248-4460
4 JUNE 2014
G R O U N D W O R K , the official publication of the Landscape
Contractors Association, MD•DC•VA, is published monthly by
LCA, 9707 Key West Avenue, Suite 100, Rockville, MD 20850.
P: (301) 948-0810 F: (301) 990-9771
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Office hours: Monday–Friday, 8:30 am–5 pm (EST).
LCA is not responsible for opinions expressed and facts
presented by contributing authors.
Editorial Deadline: The deadline to submit copy is the first of
the month for the following month’s issue and is on a space­­­–
available basis.
Advertising & Classifieds: All ads must be high-resolution PDF and
pre‑paid. Contact: Barbara Bienkowski at the address and phone
number above for more information and the deadline schedule.
Copyright © 2014: Landscape Contractors Association,
MD•DC•VA. Reproduction of any material
allowed only with prior written permission
from LCA. LCA’s core purpose is to
advance the success of its members
and provide a community for green
industry professionals.
President’s Message
Matt Owens, MBA, LIC
2014 President
Greetings! There are only 88 days until Penn
State has its opening football game, there’s a
lot to do between now and then. I point this
out, not only as an important piece of information, but it also signifies just how quickly
this year has gone by. It’s hard to believe it is
June already. I think everyone in the industry is mentally preparing for a much-needed
summer vacation. Block out time to spend
with your family—they’re the reason we all
work so hard.
A few housekeeping items:
• Many thanks to Nanette Seven and her
team for hosting the recent LCA happy
hour on May 8 in Annapolis. I enjoyed
seeing many colleagues and making new
• LCA’s Certification exam is quickly
approaching—early bird registration ends
today, June 13.
• LCA’s Excellence in Landscape Awards
deadline for submission is August 6.
June marks the end of the second fiscal quarter
(for many companies) and is often an indicator
of how you will end up at year end. Focus on
your families and clients, provide exceptional
customer service, and recognize your employees for their hard work. Make sure you’re
meeting your financial targets. If you’re off
track, take the time now to determine where
you’re coming up short, and devise a plan to
get back on track.
I’d like to share a recent blog post with you,
not as a plug for the company that posted it,
but because it’s such an important (and timely)
reminder of what YOU CAN and NEED to
do to best position your firm for long-term
Position Yourself for Success!
by LandOpt, May 19, 2014
Earlier this month, we learned that two of
the industry’s biggest players are in merger
talks. That news has created much buzz among
landscape contractors as they have pondered
what, exactly, the impact on individual businesses
and the collective industry will be. This move is
significant on many levels, not the least of which
is the fact that it reminds us of how important
formal business processes and practices are —
and will continue to be — within a landscape
contracting business. Using “ hope” as a growth
strategy, focusing on price without regard for
profit, and relying on emotion vs. data to guide
decisions are ways of the past.
Quite honestly, there is no better time to be in the
green industry. Private equity investors have taken
notice of exponential growth and the tremendous
amount of untapped potential that exists.
So, what can landscape contractors do to ensure that
they are well-positioned to ride the waves of change?
Instead of letting the actions of other companies set
your course, focus instead on what you can control.
Now is the time to look inward and evaluate your
own business. Specifically:
Focus on creating a strong, sound company that
utilizes systems and processes to guide your team’s
activity day-in and day-out.
Evaluate your team and make sure you are surrounded by highly qualified and motivated people
who feel empowered to do their job because their
roles are clearly defined. And, consider how you will
retain that team. One way you can instill loyalty
among key team members is by providing a career
path that includes goals, success milestones and a
well-defined compensation structure.
Know that customer relationships are critical
to your company’s success. Make sure that there are
individuals within your organization who are dedi-
5 JUNE 2014
President’s Message continued
cated to building and maintaining customer
relationships. Better yet, make sure you have a
plan to develop those relationships and continually grow existing customer accounts.
Can you diagnose this
symptom of Knockout Rose?
Do you have someone within your organization dedicated to proactive sales? That person
should know and understand what your “ideal”
customer is and should spend time every day
hunting in those woods, so to speak.
Instead of worrying about the economy, consider how you can strengthen your company’s
foothold to withstand tumultuous economic
times. Developing a portfolio of business that is
equal parts long-term maintenance and design/
build project work not only provides stability,
but also helps to ensure consistent cash-flow.
Gather and analyze data that tells the story
of your company’s productivity and health. Use
that data to create a detailed financial plan.
Stay true to that plan, and share it with your
entire team so that each person understands
how he/she individually contributes to the
team’s success.
Do you have a strategic growth plan for your
company? If you don’t create the road map to
guideW your team toward success, how can
you be sure they will know how to get there?
We’re in the midst of an exciting time that
will yield many positive changes as our industry evolves. We can say with certainty that
contractors within the LandOpt Network are
well-positioned and confident about their continued success as they look at where the road may
lead. We encourage you to embrace the changes
and consider how you can best position your
company for success.
Have a great June!
Photos by David L. Clement and Karen Rane
By David L. Clement and Karen Rane, University of Maryland Extension
Rose rosette is caused by a virus that
infects multiflora as well as ornamental roses such as the” Knockout” series. The initial symptoms
are reddening of the stems and
stunted growth. The most common
symptoms that people notice are a
proliferation or clustering of these
red stems with excessive soft pliable thorns. The flowers are usually
small and may also abort. Infected
Until next time,
Matt Owens, MBA, LIC
LCA President
6 JUNE 2014
roses may die within two years.
Early detection is critical to prevent further disease spread within
a planting. Infected roses should be
uprooted and removed promptly.
Remaining roses should be closely
monitored for symptoms. Research
into this disease is ongoing to detect
whether symptoms are diagnostic
and to determine where the virus
is located within the rose.
Since 1875
7838 Babikow Rd. Baltimore, MD 21237
Tel: 410.391.4200 Toll-Free: 800.835.7617
Fax: 410.574.7582 Email: [email protected]
Web: www.Babikow.com
Consumers Seek
Your Experience
and Knowledge
To many people, Allan Armitage is the
guy who knows about practically every
herbaceous ornamental plant there is.
He’s well known for all the plant recommendations that come out of the trials
he runs at the University of Georgia in
Athens where he’s an emeritus professor
of horticulture. So, you expect he’s going
to sing the praises of all the great new
plants out there.
Allan Armitage—Photo by Landscape Contractor
He’s also well known for his encyclopedic books — 13 of them — about annuals, perennials and biennials. You might
expect him to think everyone should be
able to reel off at least a dozen cultivars
of every plant.
they don’t perform up to expectations,
however, and you’d be better off sticking with the tried and true, Armitage
advised the group. “We need new, but
don’t throw the baby out with the bath
water,” he said.
That’s why his message to attendees at
iLandscape — both during his presentation and the 90-minute walkabout
of the show floor that preceded it —
was a surprise: Find five good plants
in a genus. Know them. Use them in
your designs. Sell them in your garden
Using his daughter as an example,
Armitage maintains that younger consumers are not particularly plant savvy.
“Most of the people buying our plants
don’t know anything about them,” he
says. “They’re buying plants for decorations. Decks are the new living room,
and plants are the accessories.”
“New plants are the life’s blood of our
industry because they give us something
to talk about,” Armitage said. “But
what’s really important is what you think
is good. That’s what your clients and
your customers want to know.”
Most consumers are relying on the green
industry professional’s recommendation
of what’s good, according to Armitage.
“My daughter doesn’t know a Hosta
‘Whee’ from a ‘Wu.’ She cares about
what you think is good,” he said. One
way to interest all consumers in plants is
to tell them the story behind the plant,
according to Armitage. “Tell me the
Sometimes new plant introductions
are truly an improvement. Sometimes,
8 JUNE 2014
Consumers Seek Your Experience and Knowledge continued
facts, I’ll forget. Tell me the stories, and
I’ll remember,” he explained.
To illustrate, Armitage told the story of
two sisters riding their horses through
a woods in southern Illinois in 1910
when they spotted a particularly showy
hydrangea. They took cuttings and
propagated them in their backyard.
Fifty years later, J.C. McDaniel at the
University of Illinois selected the plant
and named it Annabelle, for the “Belles
of Anna” in the town of Anna, Illinois
where he noticed it growing in the sisters’ yard.
Similarly, fifteen years ago, Armitage
and woody plants guru Michael Dirr
were driving in a remote area in March
when they spotted a purple haze in theyard of a ramshackle homestead. They
stopped and asked permission to take
cuttings. A few years later, Armitage
returned to the site and found both the
homestead and the plants were gone.
If Armitage and Dirr had not spotted the plant when they did, we might
have missed out on what Armitage says
became one of the most popular in the
world —‘Homestead Purple’.
It’s important to keep it fun, Armitage told the audience. “I know you’re
up to your eyeballs in blue fertilizer
and weeds, but the people who come
to see you don’t know that,” he said.
“We’re all selling what makes people
Armitage loves stories. He likes to ask
people if they’ve ever heard of a plant
with spurs. He explains that bachelor
buttons got their name because young,
unmarried Englishmen used to put them
in their lapels to signal their availability. When the tricyrtis are in bloom,
gather everyone around and show them
the three “warts” on the back of the
flower, Armitage recommends. Then
relate those three bumps to the plant’s
common name: toad lily. “I guarantee
you’ll sell every plant,” he promised.
Of course, Armitage couldn’t get away
without talking plants. “These may not
be the greatest or the best plants, but
these are some I think are really good
performers,” he noted. Here are his recommendations.
Angelonia ‘Alonia Purple,’ ‘Carita Raspberry,’
‘Serena White’(compact) “Ten years ago, no one
had heard of this.”
Osteospermum ‘Madiera Red,’ ‘Reflection White,’
‘Flutterby Yellow,’ ‘Crescendo,’ ‘Margarita
Begonia ‘Whopper’ and ‘Big’ are the best of the wax begonias.
B. ‘Santa Cruz’ (“Performed the best in the University of Georgia-Athens trials. Great in containers and baskets.”)
B. ‘Surefire Red’ (“A Ball Horticultural introduction”)
B. ‘Bonita ‘Shea’ (“The very best plant for color and flower in shade.”)
B. ‘Shadow King’ series
B. ‘Gryphon’
9 JUNE 2014
Calibrachoa “There are way too many. We had 70
new ones in the UGA trials.” Armitage recommends
Superbell series, Mini Famous Series and Lindura
Euphorbias “If ‘Diamond Frost’ works for you, keep
it.” Other good-performing look-alikes are
Stardust and the Starblast series.
Consumers Seek Your Experience and Knowledge continued
Geraniums, “They’re never going away,” Armitage
says. He likes some of the new hybrids between
zonals and ivies such as the Caliente and Timeless
series as well as ‘Calliope
Dark Red’ and ‘Global Stars & Stripes.’
New Guinea Impatiens. “SunPatiens
and Sun Harmony series are quite spectacular.
We’ve really come a long, long way.”
Petunias. “How many petunias can one person
stand?” Armitage recommends ‘Purple Ray Vein’
(“Give it a haircut in June or July.”), ‘Littletunia Pink’
(“A good groundcover plant)”, ‘Sweetunia
Bubblegum’ (“everybody’s favorite.”)
“Gomphrena is indestructible. It’s a great plant for
medians, roundabouts, student dorms. If you want
to take a lawnmower to them, feel free.” He recommends the Las Vegas series.
Sweet Alyssum. “Sweet Alyssum used to fall apart
in the heat. The new introductions are so much
better than the old stuff, although heat above 85
degrees for two weeks will cause a problem.”
“Heliotropium ‘Scentopia Dark Blue’ is not as
fragrant as your grandmother’s, but more fragrant
than other introductions.”
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10 J U N E 2 0 1 4
Consumers Seek Your Experience and Knowledge continued
Foliage Plants
Coleus likes ‘RedHead,’ ‘Henna,’ Wasabi,’ and
‘Mariposa.’ “All of them make a statement. Pinch
hard when you plant and give them another pinch at
midsummer,” he recommends.
Ipomoea “Who would have thought sweet potatoes
would be a money maker?” Armitage recommends
‘Margarita,’ ‘Sweetheart Red,’ ‘Bewitched’ (dwarf).
Alternanthera ‘Brazilian Red Hot,’ ‘Little Ruby’”
11 J U N E 2 0 1 4
Consumers Seek Your Experience and Knowledge continued
Hellebores: “The new ones have upward and/or
outward-facing flowers.”
Helleborus ‘Pink Frost’
H. ‘Champion’ (“Large, white flowers”)
H. ‘Silver Moon’ (“Shiny foliage”)
H. ‘Cinnamon Snow’
Achillea ‘Peachy Seduction’
(“Short, reblooms, takes heat and cold.”)
A. ‘Peggy Sue’
(“Robust habit, stands tall in heat, consistent.”)
A. ‘Pomegranate’
(“Dwarf, colorful, part of the Dessert series.”)
Coral bells: “There are so many. Use five you think
are good.” Heuchera ‘Georgia Peach’ (“Recovers
faster from winter; looks good into fall”)
H. ‘Caramel’ (“As good as it gets”) H. ‘Pink Lipstick’
(“One of the best for flowers”) H. ‘Rave On’ (“great
for flowering”)
“Coneflowers are killing us. If you sell the mangoes
and other colors, your customers are going to kill them.
And never, ever sell anybody a fancy coneflower in the
fall. It won’t be there next spring.” Echinacea ‘Kim’s
Knee High’ (“The best of all time”) E. Sombrero series
Echinacea ‘Cheyenne Spirit’ (“Best of the mixes”)
Grasses: Panicum ‘Cape Breeze’ (“It’s a dwarf, and
panicums need some dwarfing.”) Nassella tenuissima (“Use it even if it has to be an annual. Good fall
color.”) Schizachyrium scoparium ‘The Blues’ (“Little
re-seeding”) Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Standing
12 J U N E 2 0 1 4
Gaura. “The Belleza series is very good. Whack
them when they stop flowering.”
Gaura ‘Karalee Petite Pink’ (“Best dwarf”)
G. ‘Karalee White’ (“A little taller”)
Sedums: Sedum ‘Lemon Ball’ (“Holds its color all
season”) S. ‘Maestro’ (“Excellent foliage even in
heat”) S. ‘Beach Party’ (“Holds its habit well”)
S. Angelina
Consumers Seek Your Experience and Knowledge continued
Geraniums: Geranium sanguineum ‘Alan Bloom’
(“If you don’t know anything about geraniums, use
this one.”) G. ‘Rozanne’ (“#1 geranium”) G. ‘Orion’
Garden Phlox: Phlox ‘Delta Snow’ (“My favorite white—
It flowers all the time.”) P. ‘David’ P. ‘Jeana’ (“A great
performer. I’m really impressed with this plant.”)
Peacock Series (“A great dwarf series. ‘Peacock White’
is the best of the series
Geranium ‘Azure Rush’ (“Sport of Rozanne”)
Plants of Note
Pseuderanthemum ‘Stainless Steel’
Clerodendrum paniculatum ‘Starshine’
Solanum quitoense (called Bed of Nails for the colorful thorns along its leaf veins)
Acmella oleracea (called the Eyeball Plant for its
unusual flowers)
13 J U N E 2 0 1 4
Kurt Bluemel, a nursery owner
and plants man who was called the
"Johnny Appleseed of ornamental
grasses," passed away recently in Towson, Maryland, at the age of 81. He
was a wholesale grower with nurseries in Baldwin, Maryland; another
on the Eastern Shore near Crisfield;
and a third in Florida near Orlando.
Mr. Bluemel was a past chairman of
the American Horticultural Society,
which gave him its Lifetime Achievement Award. Read more.
How to Stop Your
Customers From
Destroying Your Green
Industry Business
By Tom Borg
If your Green Industry customers feel they are not getting the kind of service or value
they want, they can literally destroy your business. They will do this by not coming
back and telling their family, friends, and business acquaintances, why they won’t call
or use your company ever again.
Customers can afford to be picky. Why? Because they hold the purchasing power for
your company’s products or services. If they are disappointed with your customer service, they will vote with their feet, cross the street, and go straight to your competitors.
According to research, on average, an unhappy customer will tell 9 to 16 other people
about a bad business experience. Some will go as far as telling 20 or more other people
about the bad service they received. Many experts believe this to be a form of reverse
As I often tell the clients I am working with, “there are many roads to the mother lode
of gold.” In other words, there are many strategies you can use to build your business.
The key is to discover which strategy best matches your business philosophy.
If you try to use an approach that is not a good fit or is not in harmony with your
company’s mission statement, it could wreck your business.
It must be an approach for which you can get buy-in and support from your management team and your staff. Because so many different strategies exist from which you
could choose, let’s look at where you can begin to build the right one that will work
for you and your company.
14 J U N E 2 0 1 4
Communicate with your employees
on a regular basis
The first place to look for information
on how to create the right kind of business strategy is your team. You must have
strong two-way communication with your
staff. Find out what you and your management team can do to make it a better
place for your employees to work. Ask
them what they want the company to
be like. What level of service or product
quality would they like to see it achieve.
What kind of training or tools should be
available for them to develop and maximize their ability to provide the best service or products possible?
One business owner I know of did a lousy
job of encouraging two-way communication between himself and his employees. He
intimidated his managers and employees by
doing a lot of yelling and using profanity.
He would regularly ridicule team members
in front of other employees. Needless to
How to Stop Your Customers From Destroying Your Green Industry Business continued
say, everyone in the organization was quite
inhibited and just plain afraid to give any
honest communication to the owner.
Another question to ask your employees
is what kinds of things they are hearing
from their customers. What are the customers saying they need or want? What
do customers not want?
Next, you and your team must
communicate directly with your
customers and find out what they
like and don’t like. Find out what
they see your competitors doing
right and wrong.
One of our lawn maintenance and snow
removal clients makes it a practice to regularly visit his customers once or twice per
year. He learns firsthand some of their
likes and dislikes.
Over the years, he has learned that when
he does not do this, he begins to lose touch
with his customers. He realizes many of his
customers like the feeling they get when
they have the opportunity to talk face to
face with him. As he has shared with me,
he has had many customers he has been
able to retain for many years because he
was accessible when the customer had a
complaint that could not be resolved by
the foreman assigned to his property.
an outside consulting firm and keeping the
interview findings anonymous and confidential allowed us to gather answers that
would not have been given if the interviews had been face to face or directly
with upper management.
This, along with a follow-up meeting
with the individuals as a group, sent a
message to the departments interviewed,
that upper management was serious about
creating service solutions to external customer concerns.
The same goes for your external customers.
Using an outside consultant, where management and employees are not present
to facilitate your focus groups, will result
in purer and more unbiased information.
With one client where we facilitated an
outside focus group, issues were brought
up regarding the cleanliness of the coffee
area and restroom facilities that would
Use outside resources to conduct
internal focus groups for unbiased
communication. Most times, your
foremen and supervisors will
not tell you directly everything
you need to know. The reason is
that they don’t want to hurt your
feelings or experience any direct
confrontation with or repercussions
from you. To avoid this quandary,
use an outside consultant to gather
anonymous feedback.
We were hired by a large manufacturing
firm to conduct internal focus groups with
managers and frontline employees. Being
15 J U N E 2 0 1 4
have been embarrassing for the participants to communicate and for the management team to hear firsthand.
In summary, if your Green Industry customers feel they are not getting the kind of
service or value they need and want, they
can literally wreck your business. Be proactive and communicate directly with your
employees and customers. When you do
this consistently, you will be dismantling
the wrecking ball that unhappy customers can swing. And best of all, you will
grow your business by delivering what
your customers truly need and want.
Tom Borg is a business expert. He and his
associates work with small and mid-size
Green Industry companies and organizations
that are having issues retaining their
customers. For more information on how
Tom can help your organization, please
contact his office at (734)404-5909,
email him at [email protected],
or visit his website at
Softscape Installation
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Certification 2014
Landscape Industry Certified Technician—Exterior
Registration Deadline: Monday, June 30
Stand Out From Your Competition
In today’s competitive climate, companies need every advantage possible to
be successful. The Landscape Industry
Certified (LIC) Technician Certification is
that advantage in the green industry!
Written Test: Thursday, July 10
Hands-On Test: Saturday, August 2
Training Session #1: Friday, June 20
Training Session #2: Saturday, June 21
Register Your Staff Today www.lcamddcva.org
16 J U N E 2 0 1 4
Plant of the Month
Blue Grasses Add
Rhythm to the Garden
By Mary E. Olien, Green Spring Gardens
Bluestem Schizacyhrium scoparium—Photo by Mary Olien
Gardeners needing a versatile plant to
serve multiple functions can add one
of the blue grasses to the plant palette.
Among the six to eight readily available
species, year-round interest, drought
resistance, focal point, border, and scrim
are strong roles these plants can play.
This article will feature those plants that
are true grasses, that is, members of
the Poaceae or grass family, leaving for
another article the sedges (Carex) and
reeds (Juncus) with similar coloration.
The front of a sunny border is the perfect
spot for the blue fescues, Festuca glauca
(8–10”) and its slightly taller relative,
F. idahoensis (10–12”). Fescues are cool
season grasses with very narrow leaves;
they have a flush of new growth in the
spring with flowering on 15–18” panicles by June. During the heat of summer, growth will slow, but the plants
still maintain an attractive appearance
until the cooler temperatures return in
the fall, especially if the flower heads
are sheared after blooming. Average
well-drained soil with occasional watering during drought and full sun are all
they need to be successful in zones 4
through 8.
erally longer lived and needing division
far less frequently. In the landscape, it
serves a similar function to the blue
fescue but is slightly larger. ‘Siskiyou
Blue’ is a commonly available cultivar.
This species may self sow; thus, removing the seed heads after flowering is
Several cultivars of F. glauca are quite
popular, featuring varying shades of
blue-silver, blue-green, and silvery blue.
‘Elija Blue’ is the most widely available
cultivar, owing largely to its durability in the landscape compared to the
other cultivars. Dividing it after a few
years is recommended to maintain a
neat appearance.
Moving away from the edge of the
border, look for the medium grasses,
3–4' tall before flowering, to provide
focal point, counterpoint, or scrim in
the landscape. Several cultivars derived
from the native species give the landscaper with a penchant for native plants
several good options. Each of these,
switch grass, Panicum virgatum; little
bluestem, Schizacyhrium scoparium;
and Indian grass, Sorghastrum nutans,
is a warm-season grass typically found
in meadows and prairies. They show
The western North American native
F. idahoensis, Idaho fescue, is somewhat
more durable than the blue fescue, genGROUNDWORK
17 J U N E 2 0 1 4
Plant of the Month continued
little action in the garden until warmer
temperatures arrive in May, and generally flower during the warmest part
of the summer. In the fall, the leaves
turn yellow, then fade to tan, providing winter color interest in the garden
as other showier plants decline. When
propagated by seed, they appear to be
slow to take off. During this period,
they are sending down long roots that
will enable them to tolerate the summer droughts often encountered in their
native habitats.
Switch grass, Panicum virgatum, is variable in leaf color from deep green to
bright blue. As the clumps expand, the
see-through loose flower panicles generate interest in bolder plants behind its
screen. The flowers cast pink or reddish
tinges as they expose their red anthers—
have a closer look next July and August
as the flowers first begin to open. Several
selections of the blue-leaved varieties are
quite popular in the garden. The cultivar
‘Heavy Metal’ intrigues with its bluegreen stems with bluish purple accents
at the nodes. ‘Cloud 9’ and ‘Blue Tower’
are taller variations, reaching 8' under
the right conditions. By contrast, ‘Dallas
Blues’ features a pendulous habit and
perhaps the largest seed head among
all the selections, perfect for summer
and fall flower arrangements.
Switch grasses are ideal for swales and rain gardens—Photo by Mary E. Olien
This year, the Perennial Plant Association has selected P. virgatum ‘Northwind’ as the 2014 Perennial Plant of the
Year. The strongly erect habit sets this
cultivar apart from other switch grasses.
Its flowers open yellow and mature to
a lovely beige by winter. Like the other
switch grasses, it is avoided by deer.
Since this cultivar is not patented, it
can be freely propagated by division.
For some of us, it is difficult to envision little bluestem, Schizachrium scoparium, as an ornamental grass because
it is so often associated with the looser
The red anthers of ‘Heavy Metal’ (shown) and ‘Dallas Blues’ (not shown) add interest in late summer when
the switch grasses bloom—Photo by Mary E. Olien
18 J U N E 2 0 1 4
Plant of the Month continued
environment of the untamed meadow.
This clump-forming, 3–4' tall grass has
a somewhat finer texture than switch
grass; however, the coloration is very
similar. Unlike switch grass, the flowers
on little bluestem are unremarkable during the growing season, showing as a bit
of fuzz along the tops of the stems. The
fall color, yellow turning to bronze, is
very attractive, especially when coupled
with backlighting to highlight the fuzzy
awns of the seeds. ‘The Blues’ is the most
widely known cultivar. The steel blue
stems with purplish undertones provide
an excellent counterpoint to pink and
purple flowers in the late summer and
early fall garden.
The tallest of this group of warm season grasses, Indian grass, Sorghastrum
nutans, easily reaches 5–6' tall. A clonal
selection from Rick Darke, ‘Sioux Blue’
Indian grass head: Large yellow anthers dominate the flower head of Indian grass, Sorghastrum nutans—
Photo by Mary Olien
19 J U N E 2 0 1 4
Plant of the Month continued
has powder blue foliage and demonstrates better
performance in hot, dry conditions than more fertile
and moist conditions. Plant this grass where the
flower heads can be enjoyed as the bright yellow
anthers appear in profusion on the copper-colored
flower heads in August. The flower heads of this grass
are the largest among these warm season grasses,
12–15" long and 2–3" wide. To reduce reseeding in
formal gardens, cut the flower heads for dried winter
All of these grasses are reasonably pest free. Rusts,
which are common on grasses, are sometimes a problem, especially where the growing conditions are
hot and humid. Insects are generally not a problem.
Fortunately, grass maintenance is relatively simple:
cut back once a year in late winter or early spring,
bundle the clump of stems with twine in several
places 4–6" apart, and shear a few inches from the
ground with hedge trimmers. The bound bundle can
also be used decoratively. If the clump loses vigor,
dig and divide, replanting the outer portions of the
clump before new growth begins.
‘Elija Blue’ blue fescue is effective along a path—Photo by Mary E. Olien
20 J U N E 2 0 1 4
The maintenance team at Kane Landscapes began to care for the extensive
new landscape immediately after the landscape division completed its work. With a
detail-oriented client who is often away for
months at a time, constant communication
about the services being performed and
the condition of the lawn and landscape is
essential. The maintenance crews ensure
that every aspect of the property is properly cared for—from deadheading flowers
to keeping the fountains clear of debris.
Kagan Maintenance
Kane Landscapes, Inc.
Residential Maintenance
21 J U N E 2 0 1 4
22 J U N E 2 0 1 4
Over 1500 choices delivered to you.
perennials, natives, ferns, grasses, vines, herbs, ground covers, pansies, dahlias,
cannas, green roof and environmental planning material.
www.cavanos.com Ph 410-592-8077
Japanese Beetles on the
Rise Again in Maryland
Japanese beetle Popillia japonica
adult(s)—Photo by Chuck Bargeron
By Stanton Gill,
Central Maryland Research and
Education Center, University of
Maryland Extension; Landscape
Technology Program, Montgomery
We have been pretty much Japanese
beetle-free for the past six years, and it
has been great, but something happened
in 2013 that is putting an end to this
blissful period. The drought conditions
in the summers of 2007 through 2012
kept the Japanese beetle populations
suppressed, and we saw only isolated
cases of Japanese beetle damage. In
2013, however, it started raining on
a regular basis during the egg-laying
time for adult Japanese beetles, and we
saw a higher survival rate for Japanese
beetle grubs in the soil, meaning more
Japanese beetles in 2014. The cold temperatures of -7 °F for a couple of days in
January had no effect on reducing these
grub populations. They moved deep into
the soil to overwinter and did just fine.
Meanwhile, people have been planting
ideal food in landscape for the adult
beetle. The bush type roses such as
knockout and double knockout have
been a big hit in commercial planting
sites and have been used extensively in
landscapes over the last couple of years.
These roses just add to the food sources
for Japanese beetles in 2014. Littleleaf
linden trees, crabapples, rose of Sharon,
hibiscus, and cherry trees are all favored
hosts for adult Japanese beetles. If you
are growing fruit-bearing sweet and
sour cherry trees, blueberry plants, or
apple trees, expect a visit from Japanese
beetles this year
We learn from our past
Back in 2005, we saw a brutal onslaught
of Japanese beetles, which left a path of
devastation in the Washington/BaltiGROUNDWORK
24 J U N E 2 0 1 4
more corridor. The beetle populations
had been building over the previous four
years, but in 2005, we received reports
of record-setting levels of damage in
the landscapes. One landscape manager
reported that within five days of seeing the first Japanese beetles emerge on
June 24, they were finding 14 to 16 ft tall
little leaf lindens completely defoliated.
Nurseries visited in Frederick and Carroll
Counties on June 30 had so many adult
beetles on susceptible tree species that
when we shook the branches, the sky was
clouded by swarms of escaping beetles.
The population levels of Japanese beetles were at epidemic proportions on
the East Coast from the 1940s–1960s
before settling into generally low levels
for many years. This pest activity fell
into a persistent but almost “low incidence” pest status in many communities. We are still seeing low populations
in the oldest established communities,
but plague levels in the newly devel-
Japanese Beetles on the Rise Again in Maryland continued
oped neighborhoods. In the South and
Midwest, however, the Japanese beetle
is still a relatively recent pest, where
expanding populations are wreaking
havoc in many landscapes.
The Japanese beetle was one of the early
invasive species. Native to Japan, this
beetle was first observed in the United
States by two Canadian entomologists visiting New Jersey in 1916 who
described them as a “curious southern
species of beetle.” Little did these two
realize how widespread the Japanese
beetle would become over the next century. Japanese beetle populations are
entrenched and damaging plant material
in Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Alabama,
northern Georgia, and South Carolina.
The range of the beetles continues to
expand, with localized infestations in
many other states, including Colorado,
which now has thousand canker dis-
ease killing walnuts, emerald ash borer
killing ash trees, and Japanese beetles
feeding on many of the remaining trees
and shrub species growing in this arid
land. You thought you had it tough—
try growing anything other than rocks
in Colorado lately.
Aggressive programs to eliminate
this introduced pest in these isolated
outcroppings have been effective but
expensive. Constant vigilance and early
interception will be necessary to keep
Japanese beetles from spreading to new
areas in the United States.
Where are they now?
After mating, adult females live 30–45
days, and their peak flight activity is
finishing up in August. They feed and
lay eggs throughout the summer, ultimately laying 40–60 eggs in the soil.
When females lay eggs, they are rather
f lattened, slightly
wrinkled, and oval.
Eggs are laid only
1 to 3 inches in the
soil, a relatively
shallow depth. As
soon as eggs are
ar ters!
laid, they start to
Your Bl
absorb moisture
from the adjacent
soil and increase in
size quickly, as long
as moisture levels
are adequate. One
to four eggs are
laid at a time, with
additional egg laying occurring every
few days for over
a month in midsummer. The eggs
hatch in August,
so this is good time
to control newly
hatched larvae in
7535 Railroad Avenue | Hanover, Maryland 21076 | 1-888-766-4242
turfgrass areas.
25 J U N E 2 0 1 4
Grubs hatch in 10–12 days and feed
on turfgrass roots until the fall. By
late October to November, when soil
temperatures drop, grubs cease feeding
and move downward 15–30 cm (6–12
inches) into the soil to overwinter. Many
people have commented that the single
digit temperatures in January and early
February must have surely killed the
white grubs. Unfortunately, the grubs
go deep into the soil, often below the
frost line, so there is little mortality
from winter cold.
Come spring, when soil temperatures
warm up, grubs move up toward the soil
surface and continue feeding on grass
roots. Grubs mature from late May
through June and molt to pupae in the
soil. One generation occurs each year.
Turf that attracts Japanese
Ten months of the year, the Japanese
beetle grub is hidden away beneath the
turf areas of a landscape or nursery,
silently cutting away the root system
of the grass. Grubs prefer healthy, wellirrigated, and fertilized turf in full sun.
If grub populations are low or the turfgrass is receiving enough water to keep
it growing vigorously, the damage to
the turf may go undetected.
Japanese beetles feed on all cool season
grasses, but they seem to prefer perennial
ryegrass and hard fescues. Researchers
in Kentucky found that Kentucky bluegrass is nutritionally inferior as a food
source, but if fed upon, it does recover
from Japanese beetle damage faster
because of its spreading growth habit
compared to perennial ryegrass.
Incidentally, perennial ryegrasses with
endophytes do not seem to have enough
toxin in their roots to prevent grub
attack. Endophytes may, however, boost
ryegrass recovery following grub attack.
Japanese Beetles on the Rise Again in Maryland continued
Landscape plants that attract
Japanese beetles
Japanese beetle adults begin their annual
activity by mid-June (approximately),
with peak activity in mid-July. Adults
prefer ornamental plants in full sun and
typically feed in groups. Certain plants
in the landscape are magnets for adult
Japanese beetles. For example, if littleleaf
linden, horse chestnut, Japanese flowering plum, rose, or crapemyrtle are in the
landscape, expect Japanese beetle adults
to be frequent visitors and to consume
generous amounts of foliage. The following list includes the top 10 favorite plant
foods of Japanese beetles: 1) American
linden, 2) crabapple, 3) apple, 4) Japanese maple, 5) Norway maple, 6) rose,
7) crapemyrtle, 8) pin oak, 9) birch, and
10) Prunus spp (plum, apricot, cherry,
peach). (source: APHIS) Secondary preferred host plants include black walnut,
willow, grape, hibiscus, horse chestnut,
blueberry, sassafras, Virginia creeper,
and summersweet (Clethra). Notice that
the list of secondary preferred plants
includes some wild plants that might
be found in nearby hedgerows.
The top five preferred herbaceous plants
include 1. hollyhock (Alcea rosea), 2.
dahlia (Dahlia spp.) 3. hibiscus (Hibiscus spp.), 4. common mallow (Malva
rotundiflora), and 5. evening primrose
(Oenothera biennis). Adults also feed
on annual flowers, including zinnia
Japanese beetle,Popillia
japonica, larva(e)—Photo by
USDA Agricultural Research
Service Archive
(Zinnia elegans), common four-o’clock
(Mirabilis jalapa), and French marigold
(Tagetes patula).
Controlling adult beetles in 2014
The key to controlling adult Japanese
beetles is to use a material that either
repels the adult beetles from feeding or
kills them quickly before they can inflict
much damage to the foliage. One additional challenge is determining how to
reduce damage to plants with materials
that have the least impact on pollinators
and beneficial organisms.
Once Japanese beetle adults start damaging foliage, the wounded plant tissue
releases volatiles that additional beetles
will detect, attracting other adults to
feed on the plant. If a slow-killing
pesticide is used, adults can cause a
fair amount of damage and increase
the feeding aggregation of other adult
beetles on the plant.
Read labels on pesticide containers to
see if they impact pollinators. Do not
spray plants that are in bloom with
materials that have “do not spray when
a plant is in bloom” on the label. EPA
is requiring all of the neonicotinoids
to have a bee box with a warning precaution on the label. Presently, there
will be no precaution listed for soil
drench applications of neonicotinoids
because adequate information is not
available regarding soil applications
being carried into pollen, and if so,
at what level.
Registered products that are very good
at controlling adult Japanese beetles
include Sevin (=carbaryl), Astro (=permethrin), DeltaGard (=deltamethrin),
Talstar (=bifenthrin), and/or Tempo
(=cyfluthrin). None of these materials can be applied when plants are in
bloom. If spraying large trees or shrubs,
make sure no flowering plants are in
the area.
26 J U N E 2 0 1 4
A newer systemic insecticide, Acelepryn ( chorantraniliprole), is a FRAC
group 28 insecticide that controls adult
Japanese beetles. The label lists control
of Japanese beetle larvae but not adults.
Syngenta submitted a 2ee (emergency
exemption) for Acelepryn, which allows
use as a foliar and for soil application
to trees and herbaceous plants in the
landscape. The label rate for foliar applications for Japanese beetles ranges from
1–8 oz/100 gallons of water. The soil
rate is 0.125–0.25 fl oz per inch of trunk
diameter (measure at 4 ft height). If you
choose to use Acelepryn in 2014, then
visit the www.CDMS.net and go to the
Acelepryn label. You must download
the Acelepyrn 2ee and have it on file at
your shop if you intend to use Acelepryn
for adult Japanese beetle control. The
label on Acelepyrn has no precautions
concerning bees or other pollinators.
Syngenta has submitted the paperwork
to EPA to have adult Japanese beetles
listed on the label, but this will not
occur until after the next EPA review.
Once the approval occurs, the new label
will list adult Japanese beetles, and you
will not need to download the copy of
the 2ee from the Web.
The impact of the neonicotinoid class of
insecticides on pollinating insects such
as honey bees and native bees may be a
concern. Of the neonicotinoid class of
chemicals, most, including imidacloprid, dinoteruran, and thiamexotham,
will have warning labels saying not to
spray when plants are in bloom. To be
on the cautious side, soil applications
of neonicotinoids should be made after
plants have flowered. It is not presently known whether soil applications
are carried into pollen and what levels
cause potential problems. Imidacloprid
(=Merit, Mallet, and many other brand
names) has a label for Japanese beetle
control. If you are applying this as
foliar spray after a plant has bloomed,
it should kill Japanese beetles for two to
Japanese Beetles on the Rise Again in Maryland continued
three weeks. Applying as a foliar spray
after bloom time reduces the chance
that pollinators will contact the insecticide. Foliar applications of the material
do not result in long-term persistence
in the plant. When imidacloprid is
applied as a soil drench, it acts differently and remains in a plant for longer
periods of time. The problem is that
if applied as soil drench, imidacloprid
must be applied two to three months
before the insect you are trying to control is present. The chemical is very
slow to be taken up into woody plant
material. The chemical could be present in flower blooms, thus impacting
pollinators. Also, soil applications of
imidacloprid that are absorbed through
roots result in the plant metabolizing
the compounds. Some of the resulting
breakdown products could be equally or
even more toxic to pollinators than the
original compound, but this is presently
unknown. Additionally, the imidacloprid, when absorbed through roots of
plants, remains in the plant for two to
three years.
So, to control Japanese beetles, if you
choose to use a foliar spray like imidacloprid, it should be used after the plant
is finished blooming. This works for
single-season flowering trees, shrubs,
and herbaceous plants. For plants that
continue to flower over a longer period
of time, such as roses, hibiscus, or zinnias, this would not be an appropriate
spray to use because the material would
be found in the flower and pollinators
would pick it up. Soil applications before
the plant blooms are not restricted by
EPA labels.
Dinotefuran (=Safari, Transtect) is
also a neonicotinoid. It is more water
soluble and is taken up by plants faster.
It can be applied as a basal trunk spray
and be taken up into foliage in a couple
of weeks. When the dinotefuran is
taken up into the plant, it also forms
metabolites, but they break down rapidly compared to imidacloprid and are
nondetectable by the end of the season. Apply this after a plant flowers,
and the chemical will be broken down
before blooming next season.
If you want to use dinotefuran to control Japanese beetle adults, apply it as
a soil drench or basal trunk spray just
after bloomtime to avoid any chance
of impacting pollinators. The soil or
bark application should last the rest
of the growing season. If you choose
to apply dinoterfuran as foliar spray,
do so after bloom time. Residual control of Japanese beetles is two to three
Acetamiprid is another neonicotinoid that is highly water soluble. It
is labeled for foliar applications only.
This material will control Japanese
beetles and should only be applied to
plants after they have finished blooming. It is the only neonicotinoid that
will not have a pollinator precaution
statement on its label.
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27 J U N E 2 0 1 4
Japanese Beetles on the Rise Again in Maryland continued
Reduced risk pesticides for
controlling adult Japanese
Rebecca Baumler Willis at Kentucky
The Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) classifies certain chemicals as
reduced risk if they have minimal impact
on human health and the environment.
Some of the reduced risk pesticides that
can be used for adult Japanese beetle
control are azadirachtin, spinosad, and
Coming in 2014
Azadirachtin, sold under several names,
including Azatin XL, Neemazad, AzaDirect, and Ornazin, is a botanical
insecticide derived from the seed of
the neem tree. Applications of azadirachtin act as a feeding deterrent, and
we have obtained three or four days of
repellency with foliar applications on
Japanese beetle susceptible plants.
Pyrethrin is sold under the names
Pyreth-It and Pyganic.
The pyrethrins are a pair of natural
organic compounds normally derived
from Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium
and with potent insecticidal activity.
Pyrethrins are neurotoxins that attack
the nervous systems of all insects. When
present in amounts not fatal to insects,
they still appear to have an insect repellent effect. They are nonpersistent and
biodegradable and break down upon
exposure to light or oxygen. This material works via direct contact to the Japanese beetle, so spray must be directed
onto the beetle. This is best done in
morning hours when beetles are stationary. If pyrethrins hit pollinators directly,
they will kill them. Because it has no
residual effect, it has no impact on pollinators once it is dry.
Pyola, a combination of pyrethrins
and canola oil (from Gardens Alive
and other suppliers) was effective in
research conducted by Dan Potter and
Mainspring (cyanoantraniliprole) is in
the same family (FRAC 28) as Acelepryn and will labeled by EPA for use
in greenhouses, interiorscapes, and
production nurseries for controlling
several insects, including adult Japanese beetles. The proposed label has
no precaution concerning bees or other
The ideal spray timing targets adults
when they first appear and before damage occurs. Repeat applications are often
desirable weekly on high-value plants,
particularly if this ideal spray window
was missed. Because larvae develop in
turf, treatment of turf areas is also recommended as a dual control.
Japanese beetle traps containing floral
and sex attractant lures are used as a
monitoring tool. Traps have been misused by the public, which mistakenly
believes they control beetles, but beetles
often have been shown to land and feed
on plants close to traps.
How about Japanese beetleresistant plants?
Many littleleaf lindens (Tilia cordata)
and American lindens (Tilia americana) were completely defoliated in
mid-Atlantic landscapes in 2004. By
late July, only brown skeleton-like
veins remained from the leaf petioles
of numerous street trees, including the
linden cultivars ‘Greenspire’, ‘Olympic’,
‘Redmond’, and ‘Prestige’. However, Silverleaf lindens (Tilia tomentosa) growing
in the same landscape had little, if any,
Japanese beetle feeding inury. The foliage of silverleaf linden (and cultivars) is
just a little thicker with small hairs on
it that apparently make it unattractive
to adult beetles.
28 J U N E 2 0 1 4
Another resistant tree to try is the Japanese tree lilac, Syringa recticulata. The
tree lilac is well adapted to urban soils
and blooms in mid-summer. The late
lilac, Syringa villosa, grown as a shrub
or trained as a small tree is also a good
choice. Both species of Syringa are very
resistant to Japanese beetle feeding.
Using species that are seldom attacked
by the Japanese beetle can reduce damage to nursery plants. The top 10 least
preferred plants by Japanese beetles are
1) magnolia, 2) redbud 3) dogwood 4)
red maple, 5) northern red oak, 6) burning bush, 7) holly, 8) boxwood, 9) hemlock, and 10) lilac (Source: APHIS).
Other least preferred landscape plants
include false cypress, yew, juniper, forsythia, clematis, red maple, euonymus,
tuliptree, ornamental pears, and most
oaks (white, scarlet, red, and black).
Plan for 2014
Stay tuned and we will keep you up on
what is happening with Japanese beetles
in the weekly IPM Alerts as the season
Excellence in Landscape Awards
Tips to Present Your Award
Entry in the Best “Light”
Planning—Capture plenty of “before” shots from
many viewpoints prior to the project start. If you are
taking over a maintenance project, document those
before shots as well. Later, shoot the project from
the same angles.
Patience—Don’t rush the entry. Be sure it has a
time to mature. Plan to photograph it in all seasons—especially in peak color.
Preparation—Remove any debris from patio, pool
deck, lawn, and plant beds; be sure turf areas are
properly mowed and without dead areas; be sure
litter, water hoses, and garbage cans are out of
sight; remove pool sweep and litter from the pool.
Lighting—Soft morning or early evening light
lessens the contrast and is ideal for taking the best
pictures. Photos taken in full sun at mid-day will
wash out your photos and cast dark shadows.
Views—Frame your view carefully, removing telephone poles and traffic signs, excessive concrete
curbs, and pavement. Take before and after shots
from the same point of view. Get closeups detailing
your craftsmanship (at least five are required if you
are entering in the Craftsmanship category). Take
photos from unusual perspectives, such as from
the roof or air, or show views from inside.
Creatively tell the story—Use the entry form to
detail the client’s objectives, your vision, and special
or unusual problems encountered. Use the photos
and photo descriptions—in the correct order—to
walk the judges through the project and present it
in the best “light.”
Entry Deadline Wednesday, August 6, 2014
29 J U N E 2 0 1 4
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JRM Chemical..................................................................... 15
Manor View Farm, Inc.......................................................... 27
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Summit Hall Turf Farm, Inc.................................................. 11
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July 2014 Issue
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Walnut Springs Nursery, Inc................................................. 2
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30 J U N E 2 0 1 4