G R O U N D W O R K

SEPTEMBER 2013
GROUNDWORK
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
How to Houzz
How To Market for Growth–Part 2
Update on Garden Impatiens
contents
September 2013
5 President’s Message
7 How To Market for Growth–Part 2
9 How to Houzz
12 Excellence in Landscape Profile—
Gettysburg National Military Park
Museum & Visitors Center
16 Plant of the Month—Drought-Tolerant
Grasses for the Next Decades
20 Update on Garden Impatiens
23 Advertising Information
SAVE THE DATE
Pesticide
Recertification L NEW
OCATION
Conference
!
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
The Universities at Shady Grove
Conference Center
9630 Gudelsky Drive, Rockville, MD 20850
See page 10 for more details
on the cover
Gettysburg National
Military Park Museum &
Visitors Center
Plant of the Month
Drought-Tolerant
Grasses
Ruppert Landscape
Commercial Landscape Installation
—
G R A N D AWA R D —
GROUNDWORK
“Feature” and “Plant of the Month” articles can also be found online under the
GROUNDWORK ARTICLE ARCHIVE section at: www.lcamddcva.org
3
SEPTEMBER 2013
2013/14 CALENDAR OF
OCTOBER 2013
9
Mini Seminar: Bill Arman
The Harvest Group
Are You a Fierce Competitor
Click here to register
Johns Hopkins University
Montgomery County Campus
Rockville, MD
NOVEMBER 2013
15
20
Turning a New Leaf Conference
NCTC, National Conservation Training Center
698 Conservation Way
Shepherdstown, WV
Excellence in Landscape
Awards & CLT Recognition Evening
Gaithersburg Marriott at
Washingtonian Center
Gaithersburg, MD
DECEMBER 2013
12
Pesticide Management Conference
Click here for details
Carroll Community College
Westminster, MD
FEBRUARY 2014
12
Pesticide Recertification Conference
See page 10 for more details
University of Maryland
Shady Grove Campus
Rockville, MD
LCA 2013 Mini-Workshop
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Johns Hopkins University, Rockville, MD
Click Here to Register
Bill Arman
Are You a Fierce Competitor?
It feels like our services are becoming more and more a commodity.
Some companies seem to be doing quite well, while others are struggling. How can
your company enjoy successes in today’s market? Attend this mini-seminar to find
out how you can become a “Fierce Competitor.”
You’ll learn:
ƒƒ how to successfully market and sell your services
ƒƒ practical ways to make more profit
ƒƒ what milestones are critical to success & how you stack up to industry standards
ƒƒ easy ways to be “Fiercely Competitive”
2013 BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Ken Thompson—President
Ruppert Landscape—(571) 248-4460
Matt Owens, MBA, CLP, CLT, CPH—Vice President
PGC Landscape—(301) 874-5940
Matt Glover, CLT—Secretary/Treasurer
Bloomstead Landscapes—(240) 252-3111
Michael Martin—Immediate Past President
Live Green Landscape Associates, LLC—(410) 833-9640
DIRECTORS
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
Kevin O'Neill
Great American Landscapes, Inc.—(301) 972-5681
Mark Oxley
Outdoor Illumination, Inc.—(301) 907-4999
Jeff Topley
Brickman—(703) 437-7270
Jeff Waters
Shemin Nurseries, Inc.—(301) 421-1220
LCA STAFF
Beth W. Palys, FASAE, CAE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Lynn Turner SENIOR MEMBER SERVICES MANAGER / OPERATIONS
Julie Hill MARKETING DIRECTOR
Jon Benjamin SENIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER
Julie Burgess MEETINGS MANAGER
Nancy Copen, CMP EXHIBITS/SPONSORSHIP/ADVERTISING MANAGER
Sally Slater REGISTRAR
Dawn Rosenfeld ACCOUNTANT
Lynne Agoston DIRECTOR OF EDITORIAL SERVICES
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
E: [email protected] W: www.lcamddcva.org.
Office hours: Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.- 5 p.m. (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.
Professional Fertilizer Applicator Certification
Beginning October 1, 2013, all lawn care professionals must be certified in order to apply fertilizer in Maryland.
The rules apply to professionals for hire as well as individuals responsible for turf management at golf
courses, public parks, airports, athletic fields, businesses, cemeteries and other non-agricultural properties.
Dates and Locations of the Professional Fertilizer Applicator Exam
Montgomery County Salisbury
Washington County Carroll Community
Annapolis
September 23, 2013 September 26, 2013 September 27, 2013 October 1, 2013
College
October 9, 2013
October 23, 2013
October 4, 2013
Washington County
December 11, 2013
Maryland Extension Wicomico County
Maryland Department Extension
7303 Sharpsburg Pike
Service Agricultural Extension Office
of Agriculture
28647 Old Quantico Rd 50 Harry S. Truman Boonsboro, MD 21713
Farm History Park
18410 Muncaster Rd Salisbury, MD 21801 Parkway
Annapolis, MD 21401
Derwood, MD 20855
Advertising & Classifieds: All ads must be camera ready and
pre‑paid. Contact: Nancy Copen at the address and phone
number above for more information and deadline schedule.
Copyright © 2013: 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.
Review sessions are offered before the exam. Participants can attend a review session and take the exam on
the same day. For more information, visit http://mda.maryland.gov/Pages/fertilizer.aspx or call the Maryland
Nutrient Management Program at (410) 841-5959.
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SEPTEMBER 2013
PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE
Management Fundamentals
Whether you’re coaching a football team or managing a landscape crew, the path to
improvement usually involves executing the fundamentals. In football, the fundamentals
are the blocking and tackling. In management, the fundamentals usually include planning, appreciating, controlling, and communicating.
Ken Thompson
2013 President
Planning—The planning process in business is very complex. It often starts with some
of the higher end steps, such as creating strategic plans and developing budgets. But
every manager needs an ongoing daily planning process that involves some of the simpler things, like creating checklists and setting aside part of the day for planning out
the details. This can be as easy as scheduling out your day on the way to work or going
through a mental checklist at the end of each day before you leave your desk. The main
point is that planning needs to be a daily activity, whether you’re managing a crew or
running a major organization.
Appreciating—It’s hard to find people who don’t think this is a good management
practice. But it’s also a challenge finding people who do it as much as they should.
Appreciation needs to be planned for and structured, or it most likely isn’t going to take
place. It doesn’t come naturally to most of us in the midst of a busy day. Our daily planning process needs to focus on this, and we need to ask the question, “have we taken the
opportunity to say thank you or recognize a job well done?”
Controlling—There are hundreds, if not thousands, of conventional control systems in
business. Financial statements, job cost reports, and management structure are among the
most common. Similar to the planning process, controlling is a daily ritual. If we don’t
inspect and check on what’s important to us, it’s unlikely we’re going to have the desired
result. Inspections can be done visually, with conversations, and by reading reports. But
we can’t assume the desired outcome is inevitable without the follow-up.
Communication—We all appreciate the power of communication. But in many cases,
we don’t take advantage of it because very often it’s difficult or downright uncomfortable,
which makes it easy to avoid. Very few of us overcommunicate. Instead, we tend to err
on the side of not saying enough.
There are books written on every one of the topics mentioned above that can provide
you with more guidance and details than I’ve provided here. But the key point of this
message is that each of these concepts requires studying, practice, and discipline to make
it work. By familiarizing yourself with some of the core fundamentals and creating your
own process that utilizes these concepts daily, you will ensure that you continue to grow
and improve your management skills. Ken Thompson
LCA President.
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SEPTEMBER 2013
Babikow
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
How To Market
for Growth–Part 2
Landscaping and lawn care companies
that want to grow must create a marketing and business plan that focuses
on existing client retention, getting
employees excited about growth.
Landscaping and lawn care companies
that want to grow must understand
that word of mouth is only going to
take them so far. For some contractors,
that place is plenty far enough. But for
others, it’s not. For those contractors,
these five steps can help catapult their
companies to the proverbial next level.
1.
Create Action Plans for Growth
Your business plan for growth should
include revenue goals for each area of
your business. “I want to double sales
in three years” is too vague. Look
individually at each service sector,
customer segment and geographic
market. Identify your opportunities,
their value, and the probability that
you will land that business.
showing existing customers lots of love
is something you always, always do.
Once you have a revenue projection, you
can start to look at what you’ll need to do
in order to hit that goal. Here you’ll start
to think about sales and marketing needs,
staff, equipment, etc. If you really want
to grow, some investment will likely be
required. That’s why doing your homework and getting some sound financial
projections in place are so important.
Also on the topic of existing clients,
make sure you’re continually asking
them if there are any other services you
can provide for them. Offer new ideas
and recommendations for how they can
further improve their properties—based
on their landscape budget.
2.
Focus on Existing
Client Retention
Landing a new client doesn’t mean
much if you lose an existing customer in
the process. You have to stay focused on
client retention. Many contractors get so
busy chasing new work that they begin
to neglect their loyal customers. It’s not
deliberate. Contractors are human and
can only do so much. Make sure that
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SEPTEMBER 2013
3.
Get Employees Excited
About Growth
More work means, well, more work. If
employees fall victim to the mind-set
that they are working hard and you are
getting richer, you’re in trouble. Everyone in your company must understand
how growth benefits all.
Customer service training starts to
become real important now. So does
delegation. You need outstanding crew
How To Market for Growth–Part 2 continued
leaders out in the field who will professionally represent your brand—and feel
empowered to do so. Incentives might
also have to come into play. Goals, and
rewards for meeting goals, help keep
everyone pulling in the same direction.
to move up. If they do, get them on a
path to growing their skill set so they
can start taking on more responsibility.
Some contractors have even developed
specific “manager in training” type programs to facilitate this process.
4.
5.
Develop Systems to
Support Growth
Compete Where You
Have an Advantage
As your company grows, how else will
your people be rewarded? The opportunity for advancement is a positive development which good employees will get
excited about.
Think about what makes your company
special. Next, think about the types of
clients who will value this. Also, continually remind your employees about
what makes your company special.
Consistent employee performance
reviews must now become part of your
culture. You need to identify those
employees whom you feel have what it
takes to move up. Ask them if they want
For example, you might be the only
company in your market with a degreed
horticulturist on staff. Maybe you have
a rich history of hiring local people
with an average tenure of 10 years per
employee. Or maybe you are more
environmentally conscious than your
competitors.
Whatever the case may be, just make
sure that your unique point of difference is something customers value. In
a hyper-competitive business like landscape contracting, this somewhat gray
area is where certain landscape companies sail, while many others fail. This article was reprinted from GreenIndustryPros.com at http://www.greenindustrypros.com/article/10895525/
lawn-care-business-plan-marketing.
300 Acres of Trees and Shrubs are
a Shade Closer than you Thought
Phone: 301-782-9077 Fax: 240-667-7839
email: [email protected]
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SEPTEMBER 2013
How to Houzz
by Liza Hausman, VP of Community, Houzz
Boston-based landscape designer Matthew Cunningham was contacted by a
couple in Texas who needed help with
their coastal Maine summer home.
They had never met in person—nor was
the pro referred by a friend or family
member. The clients saw the landscape
designer’s work featured on Houzz and
decided he was the right professional
for their project and vision. They were
able to work remotely through Houzz
ideabooks, virtual folders that allow
homeowners and professionals to share
images and ideas.
Houzz is a free online and mobile
platform that connects millions of
homeowners with home improvement
professionals. Houzz connects more
than 15 million unique monthly users—
90 percent of whom are homeowners—
with more than 250,000 remodeling
and design professionals (including
thousands of landscape contractors,
designers and architects) across the
country and around the world. Professionals are able to create and manage
profiles, upload photos of their projects, and interact with homeowners in
the Houzz community—in an effort to
build their brands and reach new clients.
A recent survey of Houzz users found
that among those planning a renovation
project in the next two years, 21 percent
plan to hire a landscape pro. These users
also plan to spend significant dollars on
a patio or landscape addition or replacement over the next two years. If you’re
looking to increase your exposure to
renovating homeowners, Houzz provides a free tool to augment your marketing efforts.
Here are some tips to get you
started on Houzz:
1. Create a Compelling Profile
This is where prospective clients will go
to find out about you and your business,
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SEPTEMBER 2013
so you want to be sure you provide a
good sense of who you are and what
makes you different from other green
industry professionals. This is similar to
the “About Us” section of your website,
where you can share the background
and history of your business, how you
work with clients, and why your business or approach is unique. Jason Lee
of Jason Lee Design Studio includes
details on the types of services he provides so that people who search for those
terms on Houzz can find him.
2. Showcase Your Work!
As Houzz is a very visual platform,
the most successful pros are those who
upload high-quality photos of their
projects; we recommend uploading at
least 10 images. Consider investing in
good photography to bring the quality of your work to life—and increase
your exposure to as many homeowners
looking to hire a pro as possible. Eileen
Kelly, owner of Dig Your Garden in San
How to Houzz continued
Anselmo, Calif., has found this to be a
particularly effective way to reach prospects in her area; after viewing photos of
her projects, a client said her style was
“exactly what he had been dreaming
about.” Be sure to include details about
each photo to help homeowners understand your work, and include keywords
to help your photos appear in search
results more often.
3. Get Reviews
A recent Houzz survey found that when
it comes to hiring a professional for their
project, 81 percent of homeowners rated
“good reviews and recommendations”
as very important on a 5-point scale.
Having online reviews on Houzz is a
great way to showcase your credibility
through feedback from your previous
clients or colleagues. Plus, by having
three or more reviews, you can increase
your ranking in the Houzz directory. Pesticide
Recertification
Conference
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
The Universities at Shady Grove Conference Center
9630 Gudelsky Drive, Rockville, MD 20850
NEW
LOCATION
!
A new location means plenty
of FREE PARKING and easily
accessible from Baltimore,
Northern Virginia, and
Washington, D.C.
Schedule-at-a-Glance
(as of September 18, 2013)
4. Participate in the Community
According to our survey, closely following “reviews and recommendations”
on the list of factors homeowners consider before hiring a pro are “they are an
expert in their field” at 70 percent and
“has a personality I can work with” at
67 percent. Seeing how a professional
interacts through discussions on Houzz
provides homeowners with a glimpse
into a particular professional’s work
style and demonstrates their expertise,
making it easier and more comfortable
for homeowners to pick up the phone
and make that first call. As Micah Dennis, owner of Paradise Restored Landscaping & Exterior Design in Portland,
Ore., says, “We’re very involved in the
Houzz community, and because of that,
we are getting great, qualified leads.
When clients find us through Houzz,
we don’t have to compete with other
bids—they just want us.” 7:00 am–4:00 pm
Registration and Tabletop Exhibits
8:00 am–8:45 am
Unraveling Non-Target Effects of Insecticides:
Expected and Unexpected Consequences in Landscapes
Michael J. Raupp, Ph.D.—University of Maryland
8:50 am–9:35 am
Disease Update: The Impact of Mites and Ambrosia
Beetles on the Landscape
Stanton Gill—University of Maryland Extension
David Clement—University of Maryland Extension
9:40 am–10:10 am
It’s Your Right of Way, Treat It Right
Lloyd Hipkins—Virginia Tech
10:10 am–10:25 am
Break
10:25 am–10:55 am
Adventures in Aquatic Vegetation Management
Lloyd Hipkins—Virginia Tech
11:00 am–11:45 am
Fungicides 101
Janna L. Beckerman, Ph.D.—Purdue University
11:50 am–12:35 pm
Lunch
12:35 pm–1:20 pm
Safe Use and Proper Use of WDG/DF Formulations:
Properties, Pros & Cons, Measuring
Patricia Hipkins—Virginia Tech
1:25 pm–2:10 pm
Caught With Your Plants Down?
Janna L. Beckerman, Ph.D.—Purdue University
2:10 pm–2:25 pm
Break
2:25 pm–3:10 pm
Perennial Grass Control in Turf
Jeffrey F. Derr, Ph.D.—Virginia Tech
3:15 pm–4:00 pm
Pesticide Regulations Update for 2014
Ed Crow—Maryland Department of Agriculture
Alvin M. Harris, Sr.—The District of Columbia Department of the
Environment
To create your free business profile on Houzz,
go to www.houzz.com and click “Join Now.”
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SEPTEMBER 2013
E X C E L L E N C E
I N
L A N D S C A P E
Gettysburg National Military
Park Museum & Visitors Center
Ruppert Landscape
Commercial Landscape Installation
—
G R A N D AWA R D —
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SEPTEMBER 2013
P R O F I L E
The Gettysburg National Military Park
Museum and Visitor Center, which hosts
approximately one million visitors annually, is designed to look like a typical
farm structure one might find anywhere
in the hills of Pennsylvania. The landscape construction was designed with
the same care—using native, adaptive
plants, moving boulders from adjacent
areas, installing large caliper trees to create scale and the appearance of age,
and building stone walls reminiscent of
the era. The landscape contractor was
responsible for planting; removal of existing turf; regrading; sodding; drainage;
irrigation; paver installation; concrete
subslab installation; installation of bench,
statuary, boulders and river rock; rubble
wall restoration; installation of pedestrian
control safety fencing; lighting; and large
tree installation. E X C E L L E N C E
I N
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L A N D S C A P E
13
SEPTEMBER 2013
P R O F I L E
Rain Check Rebates
Prince George’s County is committed
to improving the quality of life for its
communities by promoting green solutions to stormwater runoff. Stormwater
runoff occurs when rain (or snowmelt)
flows over the land picking up pollutants such as oil, grease, sediment,
and nutrients which make their way
into local streams and rivers. The Rain
Check Rebate Program allows property
owners to receive rebates for installing
Rain Check approved stormwater management practices. Homeowners, businesses, and nonprofit entities (including
housing cooperatives and churches) can
recoup some of the costs of installing
practices covered by the program.
Stormwater is rain or melted snow that
runs off roofs, driveways, and the land.
Gutters, downspouts, and paved surfaces collect and move stormwater to the
street, where it’s carried into the storm
drain system and into local streams. As
it flows, stormwater picks up pollutants
(such as dirt and toxins, fertilizers, and
pet waste) and carries them into our
waterways.
The alarming amount of trash and
chemical pollutants in our waters comes
from us. Every day, oil, chemicals, trash,
sediment and other pollutants collect
on roads, parking lots and driveways.
These pollutants are carried to
our local streams by stormwater runoff where they can have
many harmful effects.
• Bacteria and other pathogens create health hazards
for people and wildlife.
• Debris (e.g., plastic bags,
six-pack rings, bottles and
cigarette butts) can choke
and kill aquatic life such
as ducks, fish, turtles, and
birds.
• Excess nutrients cause algae
blooms that can destroy
aquatic habitats and impact
recreational opportunities.
​Cisterns
$250-$2,000
Fact Sheet | Guidelines
​Green Roofs
$2,000-$20,000
Fact Sheet | Guidelines
​Pavement Removal
$600-$5,000
Fact Sheet | Guidelines
​Permeable Pavement
$1,200-$5,000
Fact Sheet | Guidelines
​Rain Barrels
$50-$100
Fact Sheet | Guidelines
Rain Gardens
$1,200-$2,500
Fact Sheet | Guidelines
Taken together, stormwater pollutants damage aquatic communities and
other environmental resources, threaten
human health, restrict recreational
opportunities, and cost taxpayers money
to clean up.
By implementing these stormwater
practices, residents will conserve water
and help support healthy stream and
river ecosystems that feed into the
Chesapeake Bay. The Rain Check
Rebate Program will help property
owners implement techniques that will
reduce their Clean Water Act Fee.
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SEPTEMBER 2013
Urban Tree Canopy
$150-$1,800
Fact Sheet | Guidelines
In addition, the Program will help the
County do its part to meet pollutionreduction targets as required by the
Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily
Load (TMDL), including achieving the
milestones set forth in the County’s
local Watershed Implementation Plan.
For more information, call 311 or contact us at [email protected]
co.pg.md.us.
This rebate program was established in
2012 through County Bill CB-40-2012
and is administered by the Department
of Environmental Resources (DER). Plant of the Month
Grasses offer contrast of textures—photo by Lydia Fravel
Drought-Tolerant Grasses
for the Next Decades
by Lydia H. Fravel, Intern, Green Spring Gardens, Alexandria, Virginia
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SEPTEMBER 2013
Ornamental grasses are a great choice
for landscaping and gardening. They
are sophisticated and intriguing and
offer high visual drama. Although they
impart year-round interest, they seem
to have the most to say in autumn and
the middle of winter, when other plants
are declining or have become dormant
in the garden. Grasses move with the
slightest breeze and sing the softest
whisper, or they interrupt with a low
Plant of the Month continued
rustle in the quiet of a wintery day. They
stand strong and architectural. Their
pale stems glow like embers when backlit by the sun low on the horizon. They
invite you into the garden when other
plants are resting underground. They
offer so much, asking so very little in
maintenance and resources.
Grasses also play an important role in
our increasingly stressed and fragile
ecosystem. They are a natural choice
at a time when we must become more
sensitive to our environment and limited
resources. They are recognized for their
beauty, durability, and easy culture, and
most require no pesticides, fertilizers,
or watering.
Earlier this year, with the help of
NASA’s satellites, scientists identified
six hot spots for drought in the United
States. Surprisingly, among the six areas
of concern is our own mid-Atlantic
region, where groundwater levels have
been declining. Without strict water
management, these scientists predict
our aquifer will run dry within the next
few decades. (J.S. Farmiglietti, “Water
in the Balance,” Science, June 13, 2013)
Grasses with deep roots are drought
resistant. Once established, they tolerate prolonged periods without rain or
supplemental watering. Many, especially warm season grasses, are very
heat tolerant as well. Among the best
is our own native switch grass, Panicum
virgatum. It grows easily in full sun and
in any type of soil, including heavy clay.
With its extensive roots that penetrate
up to 8 feet deep into the soil, it reaches
the subsurface water resources.
The general appearance of Panicum
virgatum is architectural, with erect
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SEPTEMBER 2013
Reliably upright Panicum virgatum
‘Northwind’—photo by Lydia Fravel.
Plant of the Month continued
Grasses stand strong and architectural.
Up to seven feet tall, 'Cloud Nine' with
a misty cloud of fine-textured inflorescence—photo by Lydia Fravel
growth and a somewhat stiff habit. It
serves well as a contrasting landscape
element that holds its form, even in
severe winter weather. The cultivar
‘Northwind’ has the most characteristic upright form that extends into its
narrow and less feathery inflorescence.
A strong advantage of this cultivar is its
disease resistance.
Are you looking for something less
formal? Many cultivars of switch grass
offer lovely variations on the parent.
A favorite is ‘Cloud Nine,’ introduced
by Bluemont Nursery in Maryland.
This very tall cultivar grows up to 7
feet high with a misty cloud of finetextured inflorescence dancing above
the blue-green foliage that turns a deep
golden color in fall. With strong stems,
it holds the upright form and stands up
well to winter breezes and snow.
According to Rick Darke, who is the
foremost authority on grasses, one of the
best cultivars of switch grass is ‘Dallas
Blues,’ with wide steel-blue-gray foliage
Bold and textural Panicum
virgatum ‘Dallas Blues’
—Lydia Fravel
and oversized flower heads. It is bold
and textural and up to 6 feet tall, with
flowers turning deep red purple and
then drying to light orange in autumn
and fading somewhat in winter. Dallas
Blues is best grown in full sun and will
tolerate extreme heat and drought.
If you cannot wait until fall to enjoy
a lovely wine-red color, you want to
choose ‘Rotstrahlbusch,’ the antique
switch grass cultivar introduced by Karl
Foerster in the 1930s in Germany, or
the newer, even more intensely redcolored ‘Shenandoah,’ with lush green
leaves that turn deep tones of red and
burgundy with delicate blooms from
July into September. These two cultivars
are smaller in stature, standing slightly
shorter, up to 4 feet, making them ideal
for backyard gardens.
Switch grass is often considered the
workhorse for challenging landscapes.
A more refined cousin, the prairie dropseed, Sporobolus heterolepis, is a fine-textured low-growing grass. Although the
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SEPTEMBER 2013
'Shenandoah' lush green leaves turn
deep tones of red and burgundy in summer—photo by Lydia Fravelt
Plant of the Month continued
open prairies of North America are its
home, it is elegant enough to grace formal gardens. Glossy light green summer
foliage turns deep orange in fall, and
open delicate panicles glow deep amber
in October. An unexpected pleasure of
the prairie dropseed is an inviting soft
aroma reminiscent of crushed coriander.
While this fragile-looking grass is slow
to mature, it is extremely tough once
established.
In moist and irrigated soils, the exuberant river oats, Chasmanthium latifolium,
is challenging to control, but in dry
environments it is extremely restrained.
In its natural habitat, it grows in full
sun near rivers and streams as well as
in high shade in rich deciduous forests.
It could be called the chameleon grass
because it acquires different colors and
habits depending on where it is sited.
River oats in full sun is light green and
upright; in shade it is dark green and
arching. It turns deep amber in fall and
fades to celadon gray in winter. The gently nodding, ironed-flat spikelets emerge
chartreuse and mature to pink-copper.
They flutter like glittering ornaments
when touched by gentle breeze. It is one
of the few grasses that prospers in shade.
Gently nodding, ironed-flat
spikelets of Chasmanthium
latifolium—photo by Lydia Fravel
Visually dynamic and stimulating to
the senses; low maintenance; adaptable;
attractive to birds, pollinators, and other
wildlife; enhancing biodiversity; and
conserving resources, grasses deserve
to be welcomed in our gardens and
landscapes.
To learn more about grasses and suitable plant companions, pull up a chair
in the garden and peruse The Encyclopedia of Grasses for Livable Landscapes,
by Rick Darke. GROUNDWORK
19
SEPTEMBER 2013
Update on Garden Impatiens
by Stanton Gill, IPM Specialist,
University of Maryland Extension,
CMREC, Ellicott City, MD
David Clement, Plant Pathology
Specialist, University of Maryland
Extension, Home and Garden
Information Center, CMREC, Ellicott
City, MD
Karen Rane, Director, University of
Maryland Plant Diagnostic Laboratory,
College Park, MD
In the April 2013 issue of Groundwork,
we wrote an article suggesting that
landscape managers find alternatives to
garden impatiens (Impatiens walleriana)
because a new disease—downy mildew—was so prevalent on these plants
in the 2012 season. It was tough call, as
many of you have come to rely on garden impatiens to provide color for your
residential and commercial customers. It
is hard to beat the diversity of flower colors, shapes, and textures offered by garden impatiens. It was also very difficult
for commercial greenhouse operations,
given that garden impatiens typically
represent over 25% of spring sales.
For years, this group of plants had
few disease problems and was fairly
durable in shady landscapes. That
is, until 2012, when downy mildew
devastated garden impatiens on the
East Coast. Downy mildew, caused
by the fungus-like microorganism
Plasmopara obduscens, caused leaf yellowing and defoliation of landscapes,
leaving bare green stems where full,
bushy impatiens plants once thrived.
In addition to the white sporulation of
the pathogen on the undersides of the
leaves, downy mildew also produces
thick-walled oospores in the collapsing
green stems, which have the potential
to overwinter in landscapes. If you had
infection in planting beds in 2012,
then we predicted you might have
problems in 2013 if you chose to plant
GROUNDWORK
20
SEPTEMBER 2013
garden impatiens in these same beds.
This was our warning back in April.
In late August of this year, impatiens
downy mildew cropped up in a number
of Maryland landscapes. But now, most
landscape plantings have “outgrown”
the protection of fungicides applied in
the greenhouse, and our unusually cool,
moist summer weather this year has
been perfect for disease development.
Look for slight yellow mottling or
leaf curl as initial symptoms of the
disease (Photo 1). Turn those leaves
over, and you’ll see a white “lawn”
of sporulation of the downy mildew
pathogen (Photo 2). Infected leaves will
drop, eventually leaving leafless green
stems. Fungicides will not cure infected
plants, so management involves removal
What Is Happening With Garden Impatiens in 2013? continued
and destruction of diseased plants.
Disease can be delayed by spacing
plants to promote better air movement
and leaf drying. Set irrigation timers
for early morning watering and avoid
evening irrigation to reduce leaf surface
moisture. In general, foliar diseases will
be less problematic if drip irrigation is
used because it keeps foliage dry. Dr. Jo
Anne Crouch at the USDA Agricultural
Research Service in Beltsville, Md., is
collecting isolates of IDM for research.
Her website with information on
sample submission can be found at
http://www.ornamentalpathology.com/.
Even though we still don’t definitively
know whether the downy mildew
pathogen can overwinter in Maryland,
and as far as we know it is not seed borne,
it would be prudent for landscapers
to avoid planting large numbers of
impatiens next year.
Photo 1. Yellow mottling or leaf curl
—photo by Stanton Gill
What is next?
All varieties and intraspecific hybrids
of Impatiens walleriana, including both
vegetative- and seed-produced types,
are susceptible to impatiens downy
mildew. There are no noticeable differences in susceptibility among varieties,
so selecting a resistant garden impatiens
is not an option at this point.
Photo 2. White “lawn” sporulation of the downy
mildew pathogen —photo by Stanton Gill
In 2014, it’s time to expand the landscape palate of your customers and give
them something new and unique. One
alternative that several landscapers used
in 2013 to replace garden impatiens was
fibrous begonia. Although fibrous begonias do not have the same spreading
habit as garden impatiens, the foliage
colors are great, with white, pink, and
red flower displays available. The price
tends to be similar to garden impatiens,
so if your bottom line is tight, this would
be a good choice.
There is a type of begonia called
‘Dragon Wing’ that is a full plant with
great foliage and fantastic flower disGROUNDWORK
21
SEPTEMBER 2013
What Is Happening With Garden Impatiens in 2013? continued
play, making it an excellent substitute
for garden impatiens. Yet another choice
is a series of begonias called ‘Whopper,’
with bronze foliage and a bright red
flower. You pay more money for these
last two options, but they fill in an area
rapidly, and you can reduce the number
of plants you typically use in a garden
impatiens planting. Tuberous begonias
are another choice and do well in partial
shade. The planting sites we have seen
in 2013 look very nice.
2014 would be a good year to get creative with coleus. When you choose
coleus, you are growing the plants for
the foliage, and a wide range of foliage
colors and shapes is available. ‘Trusty
Rusty’ has excellent yellow-gold foliage that works well in mass plantings.
Coleus ‘Redhead’ and ‘Lava Rose’ both
have a fantastic foliage display that will
be eye-catching in a landscape.
Thank You to Our 2013
Certification Sponsors!
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Don’t discount caladiums. Caladium
foliage can have a dramatic impact, but
you have to wait until early to mid-May
to move them into the landscape. They
do not do well during the cooler spring
but take off in summer—the hotter the
better. The foliage colors are fantastic,
with strong reds, variegated red, pinks,
and white variations. Another plant that
loves the summer heat and looks great in
partial day shade and partial day sun is
annual vinca. There is a fairly wide range
of colors in the annual vinca group. Sod Installation
Plant Layout
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estone Headquar ters!
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GROUNDWORK
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SEPTEMBER 2013
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2013
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Groundwork
Join LCA for a night of celebrations as we recognize the winners of
the 2013 Excellence in Landscape Awards, welcome the 2014 board
of directors, say thank you to everyone who volunteered in 2013, and
congratulate the 2013 Landscape Industry Certified Technicians class.
You’ll enjoy an evening of great networking, food and drink!
LCA’s Evening to Celebrate Excellence
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Gaithersburg Marriott, 9751 Washingtonian Boulevard
Register by November 15
and Save! www.lcamddcva.org
GROUNDWORK
23
SEPTEMBER 2013