Seed Test Plots: Finding a Better Method

Brian Davis | Account Manager
Posted 4/13/2020

Minnesota winters present a number of challenges to our landscapes. Salt usage, deep snow piles, and the freeze/thaw cycle all contribute to one of these challenges called ‘winterkill’. Winterkill is used as a general term to describe grass (ie. turf grass, hereby referred to as “grass”) that has died over the winter, possibly due to the causes described above. Living in our climate, winterkill is an unfortunate and inevitable problem that we must tackle each spring to some degree. Over the years, Horticulture Services has tried a number of different methods for winterkill grass repairs, with the two main methods being sod and grass seeding.

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We Can’t Work, Now What?

Jeff Wilson | General Manager
Posted 4/2/2020

On Wednesday, March 25, Minnesota Governor Walz announced the “Stay at Home MN” Executive order in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. At that time it appeared that landscape maintenance was exempt from the order as an essential industry and we would be able to start our work on our job sites Monday, May 30. As a leadership staff we began strategizing safe practices for our staff to be able to work safely. Unexpectedly on Friday, March 27, the Governor’s office released some specific clarifications that said we were not exempt from the order. This left us all pressing pause on our plans for the next two weeks.

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My Evergreens AREN’T! Are They Dead?

Catherine Nickelson | Horticulturist | Arborist
Posted 03/11/2020

Winter weather in Minnesota is harsh. Sub-zero temperatures for days on end, sunless days and long nights, and the worst – stinging Arctic winds. Everything scurries for cover from these blasts. Even native Minnesotans hunch and bundle when the stinging winds hit. It feels as though warmth is sucked right out of the body. Not isolated to people and animals, this problem is very real for our beautiful evergreens; we call it winter desiccation.

Winter desiccation is the removal of water from leaves in winter. For deciduous trees and shrubs this is not an issue as they have long since dropped their leaves. Evergreens, however, keep their leaves or needles all winter. During these months, trees are not actively transpiring, moving water from the roots up to the leaves to replenish what was lost. Therefore, if the existing moisture is removed the leaves or needles are left brown and dead or at least dead-looking. Desiccation is at its worst on windy days; water is blown right out of the leaves.

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Reflections on 30 Years: An Interview With The Guy That’s Been Here The Longest

Jeff Wilson | General Manager
Posted 12/6/2019

The following interview was conducted by General Manager Jeff Wilson with long time employee Chris Angus in November of 2019. Chris is the company’s longest tenured employee, having his 25th full-time employment anniversary in 2019. Chris has worked in almost every division of the company over the past 25 years (he claims that he has never done irrigation), and has gained vast experience in the industry. Chris presently is IPM division lead which means that he oversees all pesticide, and fertilizer applications, as well as supervising the detail crews. In the interview when Chris references Syd, he is referencing Horticulture Services founder Syd Stephan. He also refers to the leadership transition as Jeff stepped into the General Manager role in 2012 as Syd stepped away from the day to day management, He also references the ownership transition that took place when Syd sold the company to his daughter Cathy and her husband Trent in 2014.

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Reflections on 30 Years in Business: How We Got Here

Jeff Wilson | General Manager
Posted 10/16/2019

It’s not unusual to be asked about our history as we introduce our company to a homeowners association board of directors. I often start with the beginning, much of which can be found here at our website. But there is more to the history, how we tried, succeeded, changed course and discovered our identity as an organization along the way.

The story starts begins with our Founder Syd Stephan providing horticultural consulting to a couple key clients at the beginning. One being the developer of the master planned Wedgewood development in Woodbury (still a customer of Horticulture Services to this day), and the other being a commercial property manager, which managed large properties in Maple Grove, Minnesota and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Syd advised Wedgewood about plants and techniques that would be successful in the Minnesota climate and Woodbury soil. At the same time he was also helping the commercial property management company strategize how the landscape at their newly constructed properties should be maintained in a horticulturally appropriate way while providing the most curb appeal and sustainability.

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Syd

Reflections on 30 Years in Business: What I Learned From Our founder

Jeff Wilson | General Manager
Posted 09/05/2019

Despite what the title says, I can’t actually reflect on the full 30 years, but I can reflect on 25+. There were a few employees before me, but no too many. Only our founder Syd Stephan goes back to the beginning. You see in those early days Syd was a one man show, doing some basic landscaping services and consulting out of the back of his Oldsmobile station wagon. (Click here to learn more about those early years).

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Running Sprinkler System

Irrigation System Basics

Jeff Wilson | General Manager
Posted 05/24/2019

Controller:  Sometimes called the clock, this is “The brain” of the irrigation system. The controller is programmed to start the system at a given time, typically in the overnight hours. When it is time for the system to run it sends an electrical charge to the control valve it wants to open.

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EAB Tunneling

What to do about Emerald Ash Borer (EAB)?

Catherine Nickelson | Horticulturist | Arborist
Posted 11/28/2018

Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) has become a household name and a dreaded pest. Most people have heard of the devastation this pest has wrought on Ash trees in the eastern United States and know that it has an undeniable presence in the Minneapolis and St. Paul areas now. This pest indiscriminately kills Ash (genus Fraxinus) regardless of the tree’s vigor or size. Emerald Ash Borer larvae (youth life stage) create meandering tunnels under the bark which disrupts the flow of nutrients and water between the leaves and roots, eventually this kills the tree. For more details on this pest, life cycle and current location in Minnesota please see Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s EAB information website. Now that this pest is in our backyard, it is time to finalize the strategy to use regarding this issue of EAB.

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lawn care showing a man dethatching his lawn

The Myth of Dethatching

Syd Stephan | Founder | Horticulturist
Posted 09/26/2017

Every year, thousands of gallons of fuel are burned and tons of debris are added to compost sites because of an unnecessary process called lawn dethatching. Dethatching, also called “power raking”, is generally done for one of two reasons: In spring, in an attempt to clean up a messy looking lawn just after the snow has melted, or, in the fall, to reduce the thatch layer present in the turf.

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cottontail rabbit sitting in clover looking into the woods.

Who Ate My Plants?! Thoughts on Rodent Damage

Catherine Nickelson | Horticulturist | Arborist
Posted 06/07/2018

Rodents are an order of mammals with a large pair of continually growing front teeth. This includes mice, squirrels, voles, gophers, beavers, capybaras, and many others. Some of whom have a voracious appetite for everything beautifully growing in your garden. Rabbits have these same characteristics, continuously growing front teeth and desire for garden plants, but they are not taxonomically considered rodents as rabbits possess four incisors rather than two. However, for the purposes of this discussion we will consider rodents and rabbits together and classify the plant injury each of these mammals cause as rodent damage. Rodent damage is the injury inflicted when mice, voles, squirrels, gophers, or rabbits gnaw on or consume parts or all of a plant. These pests go after the plants for food and to wear down their teeth preventing them from growing too long. Rodents and rabbits target a wide range of species including woody plants, turf, and herbaceous plants (perennials); the damage caused can range from fatal to insignificant but with careful planning and maintenance the issue of rodent damage can be managed.

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