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Beautiful Landscapes Are in Our Genes

What is Snow Mold?

snow mold

Snow Mold can infect most all types of grasses that must endure a period of freezing temperatures and snow cover. It is often the first disease of the year and may cause your lawn to have an unsightly appearance, especially after the snow melts. Snow Mold can even develop without snow cover. If it is cool, rainy, and overcast, then the disease can become active and affect the lawn. Hdna can help with snow mold.


Types of Snow Mold

There are two types of Snow Mold. One is Gray Snow Mold and the other is Pink Snow Mold . They have similar visual symptoms, but each affects the lawn in a different way. The control of either lawn disease may require a combination of methods. In severe, recurring cases, a combination of chemical, cultural, and biological controls may be required. In less severe cases, a light raking of the affected area may be the best answer.


Controlling Snow Mold Disease

Controlling either of the grass diseases is easy if the infection is not severe. A light raking of the matted area will loosen the grass and allow the new plants to grow. Be sure to rake lightly, as the ground is usually very wet and the existing grass can be easily raked up. In severe infestation, raking is also recommended, but on a larger scale. It is not advisable to use a power rake as it may also damage the existing grass.


Preventing Snow Mold Disease

Preventive maintenance before lawn repair is needed is usually the best answer when dealing with most diseases. This is true for Snow Mold. Follow a balanced fertilization program that provides the necessary nutrients at the appropriate times of year. Thatch management is another important key in Snow Mold prevention.  Another important factor is mowing the grass short before winter.


Winter Lawn Care: How to Prepare Your Landscape for the Winter Months


We all enjoy the gorgeous fall weather here on Cape Cod, but unfortunately its time is fleeting. Soon those cozy backyard fire pits and crisp late-year parties will be replaced by frigid air and some fairly harsh snows. But don’t allow your green thumb to rest just yet, as there is plenty of work for your landscape in winter! Your dream landscape may look less active as the cold sets in, but there is still a lot going on behind the scenes.


Winter Lawn Care: Prep Your Soil

Remember, you’re not seeing a lot of growth, but plants are still very active in the cool months, gathering nutrients and preparing for an extended rest. Prep your landscape for winter with these steps:

  • Rake it up.There are some arguments to be had about leaving fall leaves on the lawn, as they can make for a solid source of winter compost. However, thick, damp coats of leaves can suffocate and kill your grass. Don’t allow this to happen. The best winter lawn care is to mulch the leaves, allowing for a nice, nutritious compost while avoiding suffocation. Failing this, just rake the leaves up. Better to let your grass stay alive!
  • . For winter lawn care, add a much thicker coat, as you want to create a thermal layer to protect your plants. Annuals have little chance of surviving winter, but with appropriate prep, the root of perennials can fare just fine. Thick layers of mulch should be spread around the base of trees, and in any gardens containing hardier plants that are likely to survive. Be sure not to cover all the way up to the base of trees, as this can encourage rot.

Winter Plant Protection: Helping Your Foliage

Many plants that thrive in our area are perfectly capable of fending off winter weather. Take this opportunity to improve their chances:

  • Prune back leaves, branches and stems that exhibit the signs of rot or disease. This will help your plants survive the winter, and make them healthier next year as well! Take care not to prune trees before a freeze, as you may kill the branch. For perennials, cut down to the soil base, leaving the root bulb intact.
  • Dead plants, foliage and annual plant that aren’t likely to survive the winter. These will do little more than clutter up your garden, and potentially create dead zones in your soil.


Lawn grubs live in the soil eating grass roots and leaving your yard brown and unattractive. Not only can these pests damage the lawn, but their presence also invites unwelcome wildlife that feed on lawn grubs – digging up patches of grass in search for them. The majority of grub worms come from Japanese beetles, which lay their eggs in midsummer in sunny areas of the lawn. HDNA can help take care of this problem. It is simply a matter of how to detect grub worms and when to apply grub worm treatment.

How to Detect Grub Worms

Knowing how to detect grub worms is key to treating them. Visible lawn grub damage can be seen from late summer to early fall. Look for irregular brown patches of lawn that peel away easily from the soil, like carpet. To determine the extent of infestation or which areas require treatment, dig up small sections of lawn.


When to Apply Grub Worm Treatment

Once lawn grubs have been detected and treatment is necessary, you need to know when to apply grub worm treatment. The best time for treating grub worms is in late summer or early fall while the grub worms are still small and close to the surface.lawn-grub1-400x266






Tick season has arrived and  lasts throughout spring, summer and fall, with May, June and July being the peak months on Cape Cod. The key to your safety on the Cape, or anywhere else, is prevention. Ticks are commonly found on Cape Cod in the woods and grassy areas. Ticks can infect your dog, children and yourself and may carry lyme disease. Here are some good tips for avoiding infection from ticks. HDNA can help with these pesky little critters. We can come spray your property so that you can enjoy being in your yard. 

  1. Use a tick preventative.
  2. Ask your vet for a tick screening at your next checkup.
  3. Talk to your doctor/vet about diseases such as lyme disease from ticks.
  4. Check your dog, children and yourself after going outside.
  5. If possible, stay away from tick infested wooded or grassy areas.
  6. Discourage tick harboring animals from entering your yard with a barrier or fence.
  7. Watch  for changes in appetite or behavior

Bring Spring Indoors early!

It has Been a Long Cold Hibernated Winter.  Did you know you can produce spring flowers early..?  Bring some color indoors !!! This is a great experiment to do with the kids or to see which of your spring flowering trees and shrubs you can get to bloom indoors.  ( The easiest of all is “Forsythia, photo at Right )


Guidelines for making Branches Bloom Indoors

1)  Remove the branch (or several branches) when the temperature has been above freezing for two or three days, if possible.  The warm weather will help the buds expand a bit, and plump buds open sooner.


2)  A branch that is removed shortly before the normal flowering date may have its flower buds start opening in a couple of days.  Generally speaking, the farther it is from the natural blooming date, the longer the branch will take to bloom indoors.


3)  The cut should be made on a diagonal, not straight across the branch.  Pruning shears are safe to use.  Or, let an adult remove the branch with a sharp knife.  A diagonal cut will increase the surface area through which water can be absorbed. Also make some vertical cuts about 1/4 to 1/2 inch up on the cut end .  Get the end of the branch in water very soon after removing it from the tree or shrub.


4)  The cutting can be put directly into a vase if outdoor blooming is only a week or two away.  It is best kept quite cool for a day so that the cutting does not have to adjust to a big temperature change.  Then, bring it into a warmer part of the house.  It should be kept out of direct sunlight.  Any buds that are below water should be removed.  If you don’t, they will be food to bacteria and cause the water to foul.


5)  Cuttings taken long before the outdoor flowering date will have smaller buds that have to grow before they can open.  The process will start more quickly if most of the branch is kept underwater for 24 hours or so (in a cool area).  This will help the entire stem absorb more water, which will allow the buds to start developing sooner.


6)  Change the water every few days to decrease bacterial growth, or use a flower preservative (see the recipe below for making your own).


7)  Cut the bottom inch off the branch once a week.


Ultimately you are fooling the plant into thinking Spring has sprung. This Can be done with different types of spring flowering trees and shrubs as long as its within 2 weeks of its actual flowering time. 

Fall plantings for color

Fall is a great time to plant kale. The leaves are sweeter when they mature in cooler weather. Kale can also be used to make smoothies, stir-fry and soup.

Cabbage is considered a hardy cool-weather vegetable and can be planted fall. Available in numerous varieties and shades. You can enjoy this vegetable with a boiled dinner or in a soup.

If your decorating for fall with pumpkins and gourds, choose orange, bronze, yellow, and creamy white mums. If you have a lot of evergreen plants that provide a backdrop of varying shades of green foliage, try bright pinks, lavenders, pure whites, or reds. With  bold colors, a large grouping of mums can excite even the most drab of fall landscapes.

Montauk Daisy are an exceptional perennial addition to the flower bed. Its large daisy flower that bloom very late in fall and last until a very hard freeze. Montauk Daisy offers foliage interest year round. Use it as an anchor in a bed of annuals or around a birdbath or garden feature.

Spring Care of Hydrangeas

Nearly everywhere you look on Cape Cod, you see hydrangeas. In a normal year, summer brings showy bushes that are thick with leaves and full buds that may be open.

But a harsh winter, such as the one of 2013/2014, causes plants to emerge wounded from the cold—or not to emerge at all. If your hydrangeas have died back to the ground, remove all canes that show no sign of growth. The plants will still grow just as tall as they were the previous year.

Endless Summer and other hydrangeas that flower on both new and old wood should produce some flowers on the new growth later in the summer, but you won’t have the normal display. Hydrangeas that always bloom on new growth, including Annabelle and Limelight, will bloom normally. A cold winter won’t alter their flowering.

For mop-head hydrangeas that have died back, apply composted cow manure around the base of the plant and give it a light feeding with a fertilizer such as Holly-tone.

Seeding a Lawn

On Cape Cod the best time for seeding a lawn or renovate the one you have is the period that begins September 15 and ends October 15. The light, temperature, and conditions are perfect for seed germination. There is also no weed competition at this time of year.

If you haven’t begun to plan, now’s the time!

There are a few things you need to plan before seeding a lawn or renovation begins. Whether it’s an irrigation system or an outdoor spigot, you need to have a proper watering plan in place. And plan to implement a lawn maintenance (link “lawn maintenance” to appropriate page) program, which includes mowing, and a lawn treatment program.

Here’s our 6-step plan for renovating a lawn, which includes seeding a lawn.

  1. Treat for crabgrass and weeds two weeks prior to the renovation date.
  2. Deeply dethatch the lawn and remove debris. This will remove the dead weeds and crabgrass, too.
  3. Aerate the area to loosen the soil and allow for oxygen and good drainage.
  4. Top-dress any depressions and areas with poor soil. Lawns prefer a sandy loam, which also allows for drainage.
  5. Spread a premium seed over the top-dressed areas and lightly rake it in.
  6. Slice-seed the entire lawn and finish off by watering.

Did you know that Horticultural DNA provides all-in-one services for all your landscaping needs? 

We maintain, service, and install irrigation systems.

We provide a complete lawn care program, which includes fertilizing, mowing, dethatching, and aeration.

How to Plant a Tree

The right way to plant a tree.

While spring and fall are the ideal times to plant a tree, it’ll do just fine in the summer, too, if you water, water, water. Plan your watering schedule even before you plant a tree.

Dig a whole about three times the size of the root ball, but no deeper than the root ball. Most of the roots of a new tree develop in the top 12 inches of the soil. Digging a wider hole and loosening the surrounding soil allows the growing roots to push through more easily, spreading around the tree to anchor it better in the soil.

Don’t plant the root ball too deeply. The “flare,” where the roots spread at the base of the trunk, should be just above the soil level. It’s better to plant a little high to allow for settling.

Always lift the tree by the root ball, not by the trunk. If the tree is balled and burlapped, put it in the planting hole and straighten it before you cut and remove any string, wire, and burlap. Look at the tree from all sides to check that it is straight. Only then should you remove from one-third to one-half of the string, wire, and/or burlap. The rest of the supporting material will break down in the soil. Caution: If any of the material is plastic (some of it is made to look like burlap), remove it all.

If a tree has been grown in plastic, remove the plastic pot as close to the hole as possible to minimize disturbing the roots. If your tree is in a fiber container, place the tree in the planting hole, and tear off the upper rim of the container. Then use a utility knife to make slashes at the sides to remove the pot.

Inspect the root. If they are circling around, gently tease them apart so they don’t continue to grow in a circular pattern. If it’s difficult to loosen them by hand, make four cuts into the root mass up the sides from the bottom with a utility knife. This will promote root growth into the surrounding soil.

If the trunk has been wrapped in burlap to protect the tree during transportation, take it off. Burlap on the trunk impedes growth and attracts moisture and rot.

Fill the hole about one-third full, and gently but firmly pack soil around the root ball to eliminate air pockets. Don’t stomp on delicate roots. Water to moisten the soil, and then fill the hole completely.

Water the tree well after planting. (Don’t apply fertilizer until the second growing season.) If you don’t get regular rainfall, continue to water newly planted trees thoroughly (one inch of water once a week) throughout the first season.

Lawn Maintenance

Protect your lawn from summer stress

In the spring, as part of your overall lawn maintenance program, you need decide whether you’ll water your lawn all summer long as needed to keep it green or just let it go dormant. If you allow it to turn brown and then water it back to a green condition, you’ll be stressing the grass and depleting its energy reserves.

If you lawn maintenance plan is to keep your lawn green all summer long then water deeply and infrequently, about one to one and a half inches per watering, depending upon site conditions. (Feel free to ask H~DNA to evaluate your lawn for watering requirements.)

Water two to three times per week, early in the day if possible so the water will soak down into the soil.

You still need to water even if you wish to allow your lawn to go dormant. Give a dormant lawn a half-inch to an inch of water every two weeks to keep the root and crown tissue alive.

The most stressful time of year for a lawn on Cape Cod is from mid-June to mid-August so save for later activities such as seeding, dethatching, and applying nitrogen fertilizers. For now, good lawn maintenance includes proper mowing and watering practices. Mid-August through October is the ideal time period for the other lawn-care activities.

© Alison Caron Design