TwinBranch | Twin Branch Pro Tips
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Twin Branch Pro Tips

WATERING

All newly installed plant material should be watered immediately after installation. Hand watering is highly recommended for the first watering, even if a sprinkler system is present. After that, all spring and fall installations should be watered 2-3 times a week with about 1/2 gallon of water per plant size. Usually, winter plantings mandate only one watering per week. Most all plant materials should adhere to these watering procedures for the first year after installation.

If your watering is done by a sprinkler system, be very careful with spray zones versus rotor zones. Sprays apply water very quick. Usually only five minutes of watering is adequate. Rotors cover larger areas of ground. The closer the plant to the rotor, the more water will reach the plant. The longer the distance, the less water is dispersed to the plant. Monitor your system. Learn the heavy and the light watering spots and tune your system appropriately.

Remember- Soils and conditions vary greatly even in the same yard. Flat areas tend to have higher demands. Immediately after installation, monitor all of your plants to help with determining your water needs. Learn the “looks” of your plants as some varieties will indicate too much or too little water. You must physically check the plants ground moisture. This is because plants react similarly in too wet conditions and in too dry conditions. They can weep either way, so don’t just assume.

Rainwater is the best water for all plants, but don’t be fooled by quick passing rains and storms. Very often, these do little to absolutely no good. Generally, 1/2-1′ of steady rain is needed to really help the newly installed plants and this does count as watering.

Water demands for all plant materials vary greatly with the seasons. April, May, and June tend to have high water demands as plants are actively growing. There is also growth spurts occurring in August and September. Extreme heat and extreme cold are also times of watering concerns. You will also learn which plants demand more water due to their size and maturity.

In summary, the key to correctly water is to keep the surrounding soil and rootball moist. If you use the term wet, then it usually means too wet. Also, do not ignore your plants. They will let you know if you’re watering is wrong, and correct it before it’s too late.

With a little effort in the beginning, you will find watering to be easy and rewarding. Don’t let your plant investment just dry up and wither away. Enjoy the colors, texture, shade, and air!!!

Turfgrass Flowchart

Click HERE to view our Turfgrass Flowchart


Pond Maintenance


  • PONDS MUST BE PERIODICALLY FILLED WITH WATER DUE TO EVAPORATION AND SPLASHING- MOST PONDS REQUIRE THIS ONE TO TWO TIMES A WEEK DEPENDING ON THE SEASON.
  • NEVER ADD CLOROX TO REMOVE ANY ALGAE-ONLY POND SPECIFIC ALGAECIDES SHOULD BE USED.
  • PUMPS SHOULD BE LEFT ON FOR A MINIMUM OF 12 HOURS PER DAY.  TURNING PUMPS OFF WHEN NOT IN TOWN IS A MUST.
  • NEVER ALLOW PUMPS AND PONDS TO RUN DRY!!
  • NEVER ALLOW PETS IN PONDS!!
  • IT IS ACTUALLY BEST TO RUN FEATURES ALL WINTER LONG, BUT BE CAREFUL NOT TO LET ALL THE WATER GET TIED UP IN ICE.
  • SKIMMERS (IF APPLICABLE) SHOULD BE CLEANED ONCE A WEEK OR MORE DURING LEAF SEASON.
  • LAVA ROCK FILTERS (IF APPLICABLE) LOCATED IN WATERFALL BOXES SHOULD BE REMOVED AND CLEANED TWICE A YEAR.
  • PONDLESS WATER FEATURES CONTAIN NO SKIMMERS OR LAVA ROCK FILTERS.  THEY ARE VIRTUALLY MAINTENANCE FREE.

 


Design Tips


We love all the do-it-yourself-ers out there.  Our passion at Twin Branch is helping people find and implement landscape solutions for their homes.  We aren’t here just to make a sale, but to guide you in making smart, practical and beautiful selections to make your yard spectacular.  Continue to depend on us for advice.  Bring in your pictures and lists.  And for those of you that don’t want to deal with it, we can do if for you – from design to install!

Careful thought is one thing we encourage when it’s time to get that landscape project done.  Outlined below are a few things professionals take into careful consideration before proceeding with a landscape project.

Purpose

Have a clear purpose for each area in your landscape.  This can be as simple as beautification of the mailbox area.  Other purposes can be erosion control, shade creation, low maintenance greenery, hedges, privacy or even wildlife refuges.  Each plant – and every hard landscape material – we carry is useful for something.  Even a plant you might not like will become your best friend if it fills that niche need perfectly.

Limitations

Know what your limitations are for each landscape area.  Area limitations are size, sun exposure, moisture, maintenance, bloom length, HOA restrictions, etc. With just purpose and limitations known, it narrows down your landscape material (live of hard) greatly to a more specific selection.  This makes a six acre nursery much less overwhelming.  And this principle plays into our number 1 design philosophy: practicality.  Our goal is to provide solutions that work NOW and many YEARS FROM NOW!  So knowing your limitations is extremely valuable.

Preference and Education

After knowing a clear purpose and limitations, now you get to pick the features that you prefer.  Preference has to be tempered with what is practical!  This is the fun part. Research or wander through Twin Branch Nursery to find those features that interest you most.  Write down the plants or materials you like and learn more about them. Take pictures and make notes and enjoy what nature has to provide.  OUR BIGGEST CAUTION is in this phase of designing.  The research you do is valuable and the books are helpful, BUT make sure you are selecting plants that work!!  The plants in our nursery are hardy, practical plants that work in our area, unless otherwise noted. However, we see thousands of neat plants on the internet that may look cool and make bold promises; but they end up not holding up. Even plants that are labeled for use in our area don’t always thrive.  New introductions to the industry happen all the time, but many of these introductions need to be tested before we will put our full support behind them.  Also be aware of “branded” plants.  Branded plants are just that:  someone makes a slight modification to an existing plant and patent it so they can have rights and money to it.  But too often, these plants lack the field testing and are heavy on the brand name.  So just tread carefully over some of those “too good to be true” selections.  Ask us if you are not sure because we spend a lot of time knowing what works and what doesn’t.

The Four Final Filters – texture, color, bloom time and evergreen vs. deciduous

Now that you know what you like, make your selections with a few things in mind.  These are the 4 things that make the “WOW FACTOR” in a landscape.

Color -Select colors in leaf and colors in bloom that coordinate with your home and the other plants.  Colors look best when they contrast.

Texture – Texture can add a lot of visual depth in the landscape.  Two plants the same color, but different textures can look great next to each other. Grasses and conifers add lots of texture and shape.

Bloom time – Try to stagger bloom times so that you have some color popping all throughout the growing season. For example, Azaleas bloom in spring, Hydrangeas bloom in summer and Sasanqua Camellias bloom in the fall. Don’t forget about foliage color.  Burning Bush, Oakleaf Hydrangea and Fernleaf Japanese Maples provide a brilliant red in fall.  You can also use plants for winter interest, like Natchez Crape Myrtle or Contorted Filbert. Also use perennials as borders and groupings to provide all summer color.

Evergreen/Deciduous – And of course, whether or not a plant keeps its leaves is important.  However, don’t shy away from plants that are not evergreen.  Instead mix them in with evergreen material because deciduous plants provide some of the most color and features.

 

 



Guide to Newly Planted Material and Installation


A well planned and implemented landscape offers the homeowner years of satisfaction and enjoyment. Not only is a new landscape pleasing to the eye, but it also offers the homeowner a great investment potential and improved environmental quality in our landscape conscious environment.

Twin Branch Nursery has prepared this guide with hopes of enabling you to realize all of the benefits that a proper landscape offers. Thank you for choosing Twin Branch Nursery and Landscape. Our superior sales and installation staff look forward to working with you on all of your landscape projects!

Installation

Due to heavy clay content of most of our soils, proper excavation, soil amendments and fertilization are critical. We recommend a hole size of approximately two times the size of the root ball in conjunction with a 20-25% mixture of organic material- such as soil conditioner. This conditioner should consist primarily of ground pine bark and should be mixed along with the existing soil (as long as the soil is a reasonably good quality clay and not “muck”). Plants should be installed at or slightly above soil level, never any deeper than the soil level. If planting in low, wet areas, some means of increased drainage must be implemented. This can be done with a 12″ layer of gravel 2-3 feet down or by a pipe to actually drain the hole. Very few plant species will tolerate wet roots. Trees and larger shrubs may be installed with a mound created around the outer edges of the root ball. This will insure proper and easier watering for the first two years of establishment. This first two years are the most critical years for establishing healthy, trouble-free plants. Newly installed materials should be watered daily for two weeks immediately after planting and all trees should be securely staked.

Watering

There is just one set rule for watering trees, shrubs and flowers: water promptly and thoroughly upon installation. Our heavy clay soils vary slightly from area to area. Because of the heavy soils, over-watering is of more concern than under watering. For the first two weeks, we recommend spot checking several areas of the landscape by actually feeling the soil or by using a moisture meter right at the root ball. During normal weather conditions, watering is normally necessary every one to four days for a period of about one to three minutes per plant, soaking the entire plant. If you have an automatic mist watering system, let it run for five minutes on plant material. Be very cautious in the spring with any short drougts because the plant’s water demands are greatly increased as they begin producing new growth. Also, summer droughts may be very stressful in the first two years of establishment for most plants. Extreme cold is also very stressful. We recommend watering before bitter cold is predicted, estpecially on newly planted shrubs or trees. Wet roots will fair better in the cold than will dry roots. Ironically, ice and snow actually act as insulation.

Newly installed sod should be watered twice a day for about 10-20 minutes in each spot. This schedule should continue for about ten days, then changing to once a day, followed in about ten more days by changing to every other day. Newly seeded yards should follow a very similar schedule, but with time durations a little shorter. All lawn waterings should be concluded at 4:00pm.

Fertilization

We recommend fertilization at the time of installation. A small fistful (per gallon of container size) of commercial fertilizer, such as 13-6-6 should be blended with the soil mix. In conjunction with this, we also recommend that a fertilizer pellet, complete with trace elements should be included. The pellet (s) should touch the root ball slightly below soil level in the amount of one pellet per gallon size of the plant. This insures a sustained feeding program for up to two years. A light feeding, thereafter, with 13-6-6 or 21-3-12 (time released) with minors and sludge (about one tablespoon per gallon size of the plant) should be provided in the early spring and late summer every year for the first three years. Always be cautious of over-fertilizing too close to the central stem (more is not better in this case). If weather is hot, make sure to water the fertilizer into the root zone. We also recommend a root stimulator such as “Upstart” when installing ball and burlap (field grown) materials.

Pruning and Shearing

Pruning helps your plants and shrubs by eliminating dead or infected parts and encourages thicker growth habits. You can prune to remove damaged or dead branches any time of year. You can also prune in the late winter or late spring to guide the shaping of your plants and promote new growth, which ultimately spurs production of fruits or flowers. Pruning controls the size of your plants and ensures good proportion and shape. Pruning in late winter should include many of your deciduous plants and shrubs that require some shaping in order to set the pattern of how the plant is to grow and what size is desireable for your landscape. Pruning immediately after flowering should include most of all your flowering plants and should be done to ensure new buds for the same or following year. Azaleas, for example, shold be pruned for shape and size within a month of bloom drop. This type of flowering shrub should be pruned again for the reaminder of the year, as it may reduce or eliminate the next years flowers.

Crepe Myrtles and woody type plants should be cut down to the desired shape and height in the late winter and then left to grow for the entire blooming season.

Shearing of new growth on evergreens, such as boxwoods, hollies, etc. should be done repeatedly to maintain a desired, well manicured look. Shearing is not recommended during times of stress, such as high heat or drought. Late summer and early fall shearing should be avoided, as this promotes new growth late in the year that would be killed by the first frost.

Annuals and Perennials

Perennials can be planted year round. Even though they will look like an empty pot of dirt, Fall and winter are still a good time to plant perennials.

Summer annuals should be planted after mid-April. Late frost will kill them. Fall annuals, such as pansies, should be installed by Thanksgiving to ensure rooting before extremely cold weather.

Preparation of the beds before hand for both annuals and perennials is extremely important. We recommend the addition of one bag of soil conditioner (two cubic feet), one forty pound bag of cow manure, one forty pound bag of mushroom compost and one pound of 10-20-6 fertilizer to the existing soil for each ten square feet of bed. The wetter the area is, the higher the bed should be.

Watering needs for both perennials and annuals can vary quite a bit depending on the type of plant and exposure to the sun. If in question, it is usually best to feel the soil before watering. This is done by actually touching the soil to see if it is moist or dry.

Along with initial fertilizer added at the time of bed preparation, annuals will also benefit from an additional feed of liquid fertilizer, such as “Miracle-Grow”, which can be applied every two weeks during the growing season. “Deadheading”, or removing spent blooms will also give your perennials a beter look and will often encourage more blooms for a longer bloom time.

Pests and Problems

Insects can be a major problem during the first two years of establishment. Red spider mites are some of the most destructive pests. Symptoms of infestation include changing color of foliage, small webs and generally unhealthy appearance. Different types of mites occur during all seasons. They may be detected by magnifying glass or by shaking the infested limb over white paper and noting their movement on the paper. Spraying with a miticide or a systemic insecticide at recommended intervals should halt insect infestation. The most common host plants include but are not limited to hemlocks, junipers, and cotoneaster.

Several species of trees including dogwoods, cherries, redbuds, pines, and hemlock are susceptible to attack by bark (Cambium) borers. These insects bore through the cambial layer, lay eggs which change to larvae and feed on the cambial layer. This all happens very rapidly. Symptoms that occur are pin holes in bark, wilted foliage, and discolored foliage. Unfortunately, when symptoms occur it is normally to late to save the plant. The only help for this problem is prevention, which is spraying the trunks or main stem of the plants with Lindane (border spray) every two to four weeks during the first two growing seasons.

Another problem insect is the lace bug, which attacks azaleas and rhododendrons primarily. The symptoms include splotchy yellowing of the foliage and brown spots on the underside of leaves. Infestation may be halted with applications of systemic insecticide such as Orthonex.

These are probably our worst pest areas but others may occur. An assorted array of insects and fungi are always awaiting our favorite plants of the world. The very best defense is a very healthy plant.This is assured by purchasing, installing, maintaining, feeding, and pruning good quality, healthy plants. Hopefully, all of these guidelines will reward you with with years of satisfaction from your plant materials. Remember, this information is simply a brief guideline, addressing the most common questions and problems. All of us at Twin Branch Nursery care about you and your new plant materials, so feel free to call on us for all of your landscape questions and needs.

 



Sun Requirements


One of the most common questions our customers ask about plants has to do with sun exposure?  Does this plant grow in full sun?  Will it grow in the shade?  As it turns out, the answer is not always so simple.  Read this question from one of our Facebook users:

Planting in sun and shade. Hostas are thought to be a shade plant, though they also like sun. Azaleas we think to be a shade plant and Southern Charm I bought from you likes the sun.

Thanks for the question, Anne.  It’s a good one.  Before you can really explore which plants like sun and which ones like shade, you have to define “sun” and “shade.”

FULL SUN

“Full Sun” can range from 100% exposure to sun all day to 50% exposure.  How can 50% sun exposure be called “full sun?”  It all depends what time of day that exposure receives.  For example, an area on the foundation of a house may not receive any of the sun’s rays until mid-day (say, 1:00 pm), but the sun after 1:00 is the most intense sun.  Also, the structure of the building reflects light and heat.   If you have an area that get 4 or 5 hours of direct sun exposure WITH THE AFTERNOON SUN, a plant labeled for full sun will do just fine there.

The opposite is true as well.  If your area gets only 4 or 5 hours of sun in the morning, a plant labeled for full sun may not meet its potential.

SHADE

First of all, very few plants will grow in a fully shaded area.  Full “Shade” is a range from 10% exposure to 40% exposure.  Again, it depends on the time of day and the location in regard to shade providing structures.  An area that gets only 3 hours of morning sun, even if it is pretty direct sun, will still be considered shade because the rest of the day is in the shade.  Always remember that the most important sun to consider is the afternoon sun. “Shade” would be a great area for ferns, Hosta, Fatsia and Cast Iron Plant, to name a few.

PART SUN

“Part Sun” is usually partnered with the label of “Sun” or “Shade” to broaden the range.  An area that is Part Sun could be an area with dappled sun, but a lot of light in the area or an area that gets a good bit of sun with a little relief from the blazing afternoon sun.  There are a few plants that need only true “Part Sun.”  One example is a dissectum variety of Japanese Maple.  Too much sun will cause them to wither a bit in its early years, but too little sun results in leggy growth and a lack of color.  Other examples are some hydrangeas and azaleas.

Many plants are not labeled for shade, but will GROW or LIVE in the shade.  However, they may not THRIVE! Plants need the sun’s energy to grow.  If they don’t receive enough of that energy it could stunt growth or blooms or fruit.

KNOW THE COMPASS

If you are planting near a structure, the direction in which that structure is facing is a large part of how your plants will perform.  There are two “sun favorable” exposures and two “shade favorable” exposures.  Remember it this way!  Where is the hottest part of our nation?  It’s the Southwest.  If your structure is facing South or West, it gets the most sun and heat.  If it faces the North or East, it gets more shade and, believe it or not, more “cold.”  Most of our winds come out of the North and East, which can bring in harsher conditions for marginally hardy plants (like Pittosporum).   Structures like the foundation of a house that face South or West can actually add heat in the summer.  There is not as much air flow and the structure, not matter the color, can radiate more heat.

UNDERSTANDING UNDERSTORY AREAS

Areas underneath large established trees have some unique challenges.  Typically, there is not as much sun. More importantly, the soil beneath these trees is more depleted of nutrients and water.  The roots of these trees have used a lot of the nutrients over the years as they have grown.  They also are constantly sucking up moisture. Keep in mind when planting under trees that they may need a little extra work: fertilizer, water and soil amendments.

PLANTS CAN BE RULE BREAKERS

Sometimes plants’ sun/shade preferences are a solid and definite need, while sometimes they are more general. For example, a Blue Rug juniper has to have a lot of sun.  It is labeled that way because they simply won’t do well in a shady environment.  You will also find that a Knock Out Rose is labeled as full sun, but they will actually do alright, sometimes great, in a little bit of shade.  To make it more complicated, in a group of 3 Knock Out Roses planted in a shadier location, one may die and two may flourish.  But a Knock Rose typically does the best in full sun.  Azaleas, as Anne mentioned above, are mainly thought of as shade plants.  But I have seen Formosa Azaleas growing in full blazing sun and doing great!  I believe that the reason you see azaleas in the shade more often is because there are so few choices for color in shade, and azaleas (indica varieties) give you that choice. Also, plants have a tendency to acclimate to their environments over time.  This is the case with Camellia japonica planted in the sun.  Usually, because they prefer shade, they will struggle in their early years, but eventually sort of get used to it and start to do better.

The biggest thing to keep in mind with plants is the unbelievable amount of cultivars in the trade.  Some plants are cultivated to grow in a place that their parent plant wouldn’t normally grow.  One example is Let’s Dance Hydrangea.  The grower is promising that this new cultivar of Hydrangea will grow in full sun and bloom repeatedly.  Patriot Hosta will do better in sun than Sum and Substance Hosta.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

Plants are labeled the way they are based on years of observing how they perform or based on the research and trials of new introductions.  There are, however, exceptions!  Just keep in mind that the label on the plant or sign (or the advice of one of our associates) is the best case scenario based on what plant people have learned over the years.  But plants do have a mind of their own sometimes; and if you experiment, let us know how it goes!

 

 



Armyworm Facts


Armyworm damage to lawns and other grassed surfaces is an annual occurance. Some years can be worse than others. Summer and winter weather conditions and the kind of turfgrass being grown contribute to the level of worm activity and damage. Armyworms are a normally occuring pest that are easy to control with vigilance. Some facts that will assist in identifying and controlling armyworms are:

1. Armyworms will attack lawns, golf courses, athletic fields, pastures, and roadsides.

2. Armyworms are most active and do most of their damage in the late summer.

3. The fall armyworm does not overwinter in Georgia or the Carolinas, but egglaying armyworm moths migrate north from Florida and the Gulf Coast.

4. Moths can lay their eggs on grass blades, lawn furniture, white or light colored walls and other objects near turf areas.

5. Eggs hatch in 2-10 days and there may be as many as 6 generations in one season. NO AVAILABLE CHEMICALS WILL KILL EGGS!

6. Worms eat leaf surfaces, leaving a skeleton of the leaf and in severe cases, may eat them to the ground. This kills the turfgrass plant.

7. Worms feed 2-3 weeks and then bore into soil where within another 2-3 weeks they will emerge as moths.

8. Most damage occurs when the armyworm is 0.5-1.5 inches in length.

9. Armyworms are dark green to black and have several stripes extending from the head to the rear.

10. Armyworms feed at night, but in heavy infestations can feed during the day too.

11. Active Armyworms are easily controlled with insecticides.

12. Determining Armyworms: Mix 1 tablespoon of a liquid dishwashing soap in a 1 gallon bucket of water. Flood an area of about 1 square foot and observe any worms that come to the surface. If worms appear, begin control methods immediately.

13. You may also suspect armyworm activity if large numbers of birds are seen feeding on your lawn or turf surface, or if brown patches of leafless grass appear.

14. Armyworms prefer young, unestablished grass blades.

15. Begin control sprays in August.

16. Suggested chemicals: Sevin, Bayer Advanced, Dipel WB, and various other “pyrethroid” containing pesticides. Always read and follow directions on any chemical!

17. Zoysiagrass like Zenith and Emerald, as well as Centipedegrass are considered less likely to be attacked by armyworms.

18. Tall fescue lawns may require a fall reseeding if damaged by armyworms.

19. Lawns damaged by late season armyworms must be managed carefully the next Spring and Summer.



Great Plants for Winter Interest


Winter Daphne (Daphne odora)

Winter Daphne typically matures to around 4 to 5 feet tall and 4 to 5 feet wide.  They bloom late winter with an amazing fragrance.  Leaves are either solid green or green with a thin creme-colored margin.  The plant is covered with clusters of either white or dark pink blooms and the fragrance is enough to fill a back yard.  We have them in 1 gallon and 3 gallon sizes.  Stop by the nursery and see the two or three we have planted at the nursery.  Daphne needs morning sun or filtered sun.

Witch hazel  (Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Arnold Promis’)

Witch Hazel is a strange looking and slow growing, deciduous plant that can have a huge impact on a winter landscape.  During winter, it has fringy yellow flowers on its bare stems!  It can grow in sun or part sun.

Edgeworthia (Edgeworthia chrysantha)

Edgeworthia produces drupe-like flowers on the bare stems of the plant during winter, that provide another amazing fragrance!  The leaves emerge in spring and make an attractive textured shrub.  It grows well in part-sun to shade environments.   The flowers are pale yellow and white.  Find them at Twin Branch!

Camellia japonica

There are tons of cultivars of this evergreen plant.  They bloom anywhere from December to March and provide a diverse range of colors.  You’ll find whites, pinks, purples and reds.  They usually grow from 6 to 12 feet tall, but there are some smaller growers too.  Even the large ones can tolerate regular pruning to maintain a 6 foot size.  They will also tolerate a fair amount of shade and do well in a fair amount of sun.  We don’t recommend full afternoon sun, though.   We have them in 3, 5, 7, 10, and 15 gallon sizes.

Sweetbox

Sweetbox is another fragrant bloom, but it’s not very showy.  It tolerates shade to part sun.  Himalayan Sweetbox is more of a spreading plant growing to 2.5 feet, while confuse Sweetbox grows a little larger and more upright – to around 3 to 4 feet.  They both make great small hedges or border plants.  They are evergreen and the white winter blooms add another fragrance and color to the gray winter landscape. It is usually found in a 3 gallon size.

Mahonia

Mahonias have a unique early winter bloom time that gives a pop of yellow during a time when everything else is going dormant. Evergreen and hardy, this plant prefers part shade. Check out the many varieties we carry- like Leatherleaf, Winter Sun, and Soft Touch. Most get 6-8 feet tall, but note that ‘Soft Caress’ only gets about 4 feet tall. Call ahead to verify availability.