Fun fact: Knockout roses were created in 1999 since then they have sold like crazy and become the most popular rose among homeowners.
Knockout roses are hybrid roses breed to beautiful and low maintenance. They have many attributes of traditional roses, with a few exceptions. One such example is they are still very attractive with thorns but lack fragrance and are mostly disease resistant. These shrubs produce vibrant flowers in three primary colors pink, red, and yellow. Knockout roses are tough, vigorous plants that are realigning easy to care bloom, bloom, bloom. The knockout rose does require some care but compared to it's relative roses bushes they are odor proof. A great example of this is that they “recycle” their spent bloom's by dropping them to the ground to decompose and be reused by the plant as a compost. So, no deadheading required, but no hips are produced to be used in jelly, jam's, and delicacies. On the other hand the tight petals and lack of hips mean less pesticides resulting in a more environmentally friend plant.
The knockout rose originated when a breeder, William Radler, devoted and passionate about roses since he was a child decided to dedicate his life's work to gardening and roses. He realized that not everyone had the time or dedication to care for traditional roses. With his extensive experience he began cross breeding plants for their best characteristics. What eventually resulted was seven varieties of the knockout rose. This new rose hearty, drought resistant, cold tolerant, disease resistant, and low maintenance all while still being beautiful. The knockout rose plant is the top selling rose variety today.
Planting and maintenance is relatively easy for the knockout rose. First look for an area that reduces at least 6-8 hours of sun each day. If left alone knockout roses can reach 4 feet tall and wide, this should be considered when deciding on spacing. Also, a rule of thumb when gardening is to plant in odd numbers such as: 1, 3, or 5 plants. Now that you have selected a suitable area dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball and things same depth. Knockout roses are hearty but if the soil needs amending you should dig the hole deeper and nix with a compost, peat moss, or potting soil. Taper or pack the down the newly amended soil to prevent sinking later. If no amendments are necessary, work the bottom of the hole a inch or two to aerate and loosen for easy rooting. Remove the root ball from its container either by cutting the side or tilting upside down and working out with your fingers. Place the base of the plant level to grade of the earth. If plants are planted below grade water can set in the hole similar to a bowl leading to rotting or fungus. Finally fill the rest of the hole with amended soil, original soil, past moss, or potting soil. Immediately water and at more soil if necessary after settling. Water for the next couple of weeks, mulching is also recommended. When maintaining knock out roses you need to consider how large you want the plant to be.
Hydrozoning = is the practice of clustering together plants with similar water requirements in an effort to conserve water.
Essentially, each zone of the irrigation system will supply plants with similar or the same water requirements. This prevents plants from being overwatered by having to meet the requirements of plants needing more water in the same zone. Rule number one in hydrozoning is not to group trees/shrubs and turf together. For this practice to be effective the irrigation system operator must be familiar with water usage of turf and landscape plants. Lastly, a water conscious homeowner should consider using a smart controller. These new controller have access to national rainfall information through your home wifi, and in conjunction with a properly hydrozoned landscape you can conserve water protecting this limited resource, while still enjoying a beautiful landscape.
In Houston most of the plant material for landscape is native or comes from Japan or Southern China. The plant materials come from this area because they share the same climate as we do which is humid subtropical. Hydrozoning is relatively second nature to Landscape design because shrubs are not normally randomly placed in the middle of turf. Shrubs and trees are normally placed in beds close to homes or bunched in one area in the yard. So dedicating a separate zone for these plants is standard. Final tip do not be afraid to cut off irrigation to plants that have been established or are fully mature as long as they are not exotic, more likely they were selected to be ornamentals because they could survive once well rooted.
The Oleander is an evergreen shrub or small tree. This plant receives its name because of its resemblance to the olive plant. It is believed to have originated in southeast Asia, but because of its wide cultivation no actual area of origin has been proven. Southeast Asia and the Southeast United States have the same humid subtropical climate which makes the Houston area a suitable environment for the Oleander to survive and thrive. Galveston is so prominent with Oleander it is known as the “Oleander City.”
The Oleander when fully matured will grow to be 6-12 feet, but can reach 20 with proper cultivation. The Oleander has stems that jettison upward, one can image a classical flower stem with much more foliage and height. The leaves grow in pairs or three's which are leathery and thick. These leaves are much longer (2-8 in.) than wide (.4-1.4 in.). The Oleander flowers cluster at the ends of each branch. The colors vary from apricot, copper, pink, lilac, red, purple, salmon, yellow, and white the depending on the variety. The flowers are known for their sweet pleasant scent. The Oleander has a fruit that is not edible as the Oleander is one of the most poisonous garden plants in use today. This toxicity makes the Oleander a deer resistance plant.
Naturally the Oleander occurs along stream beds in river valleys. The Oleander is a survivor and able the live through drought and over abundance of rain. It is also freeze resistant and can withstand short periods of frost with temperatures reaching 14 degrees. Furthermore, the Oleander can tolerate poor soil and light salt spray. It’s durability makes the Oleander a favorite choice for parks, roadsides, and as wind blockers.
Planting and Maintaining the Oleander is relatively simple, this plant can be considered low maintenance. Oleander prefers a diet in full sun to light shade and well drained soil. However, they can adapt to both dry and marshy soils. Space plants 6 to 12 feet apart, depending on variety. Dig a hole only as deep as the root ball and 2-3 times as wide. If the soil is in poor condition apply a layer of compost, otherwise do not amend at all. Once planted in the hole fill hole with soil and wet, then once settled fill to even to slightly higher than grade. It does not require regular watering, but will grow more vigorously with irrigation. They respond well to heavy pruning, this pruning should be done in early autumn or early spring to keep plants plants from becoming overgrown and unsightly. In the spring spread a large layer of composite under the plant all the way to the outer branch (drip line). Add 2 inches of mulch to retain moisture and control weeds. If rainfall falls in below 1 inch per week then irrigation may be necessary.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Winter is here and for landscape professionals work has slowed, but on the other hand the holiday season brings time for family and friends. I digress, winterizing your system is an important part of preparing your home for the winter. Flourish Irrigation is based in Houston so most home/business owners are not worried about pipes and backflow freezing. Houston irrigation companies usually only bury irrigation lines 6 inches below the surface while more north deeper depths are required to exceed the freeze line. It does happen from time to time the last hard freeze in Houston was about 7 years ago. You can bet that people were caught off guard and plenty of pipes and backflow devices burst under the pressure of the expanding water changing phases.
In Houston you do not need to take as many steps as cities to the north due. Most usually lower minutes on their controller to each zone or cut the number of days they water. New controllers have an option to cut minutes by lowering the time percent down from 100%. It works by cutting the time set on the controller i.e. if the controller say 10 minutes and you lower the percent to 30% the system would run 3 minutes. If by chance it does freeze you will hear about it that is for sure!! In Houston, schools out, no work, and cars are sliding all over the road. In this case you need to turn off your system as damage could come to your grass. To turn off your system go to your controller and disable. Do this by turning the knob to off if you have a push button then just push off. There is one more step, now you need turn the water off at the backflow prevention device there is a picture above of a RPZ reduced pressure zone assembly. Usually homes have a PVB pressure vacuum breaker device but both have handles that can be turned to shut off the water to the system beyond that valve. Pictured above the handle to the left is in the off position (perpendicular to the pipe), while the right side is in the on position (parallel to the pipe). If your system has a manual shut off valve in the ground upstream (before) the backflow you should turn it off there as even less of the system will be under constant pressure.
Finally, your backflow should insulated and wrapped with tap. Above is an unprotected backflow the pipe and brass is exposed to the cold air and could fall victim to the cold and burst spilling water from the broken device and cost a pretty penny to fix. Below is the same backflow device, but protected. One major tip is that you should insulate the brass also, most people only wrap the pipe which does not provide adequate protection. REMEMBER WRAP THE BRASS!!!
Landscape is an extension of your homes charm and character. Landscape is your dwelling's personality that is seen from the street, it is what your close friends and family know you by. Landscaping is an important fixture that adds value. A beautifully landscaped home has a positive physiological effect and brings a sense of peace to the environment. A well maintained landscape takes effort which takes time and energy. Getting off the couch and outside leads to improved cardiovascular health, builds muscle, increased vitamin D, improved mental health, and a sense of accomplishment.
This blog is dedicated to sharing of knowledge in irrigation and landscaping. The topics that we will discuss include but are not limited to the basics, planning, mapping and measuring, site analysis, design, plants and watering needs. Being a licensed irrigator and have a Bachelor's degree in science I have a passion for irrigation design and new exciting technologies associated with the industry. Some of the topics we will discuss are drip irrigation, conservation, protection, proper design, matched precipitation, rain collection, watering requirements for plants, and much more!
Landscape and Irrigation
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Irrigation in Texas is regulated by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) (MC-178), P.O. Box 13087, Austin, Texas 78711-3087. TCEQ’s web site is: www.tceq.state.tx.us.