Tom’s Summer Watering Tips

The Best Way to Water

It’s getting hot out there! Here are some great tips on watering that we want to share with you:

Focus on the root zone. Remember that it’s the roots that need access to water, not the leaves. Wetting the foliage is a waste of water and can promote the spread of disease.

Water only when needed. Automatic timers are especially useful; just make sure to watch the weather, and reduce frequency when rainfall is abundant. Too much water can be just as damaging to plants as too little.

Water deeply and thoroughly. Lawns and annuals concentrate their roots in the top 6″ of soil; for perennials, shrubs and trees, it’s the top 12″. In heavy soil, it may take hours for water to percolate down 6-12″. Use your finger or a shovel to check the progress.

Water in the morning. If you do get moisture on the leaves, this gives them time to dry out. It’s much more difficult for plant diseases to get a foothold when the foliage is dry.

Mulch everything. Mulch reduces surface runoff and slows evaporation from the soil.

And finally, keep your garden well-watered with the right tools: soaker hoses, lightweight hoses, sprinklers, rain barrels and irrigation timers.
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Rain Barrel- plow and hearth sprinklers1 soakerhose

Azaleas: Fertilization and Care AFTER Blooming!

Azaleas-Fertilization and Care after Blooming

After azaleas and rhododendron plants have had time to settle in where you’ve planted them-the next step in caring for these bushes is fertilizing. But even then, be careful not to over-fertilize. Stay away from the mentality that says, “If some fertilizing is good, then more must be better.” There are standard fertilizers to use on azalea and rhododendrons bushes — mixes that can be purchased at nurseries and major hardware chains. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer’s label. Except perhaps for one instruction — the amount of fertilizer to apply. Cut that in half. It is usually better to be conservative about applying fertilizer.

A good time to fertilize azaleas and rhododendrons is right after they have finished blooming.

Ally #1 in Azalea, Rhododendron Care: Mulch

Mulching is an essential part of proper care for azalea bushes and rhododendrons. The roots of these shallow-rooted plants need the protection that mulch affords against extremes of heat and cold — and against drying out. Remember, the fact that these plants like a well-drained soil doesn’t mean they like to be dry. Azaleas and rhododendrons are not desert plants; they like water. They just don’t like to be sitting in it for long periods of time, which would cause their roots to rot.

The best mulches for azaleas and rhododendrons are acidic mulches, such as pine straw (although, as I report in the following article, some experts now dispute some aspects of the concept “acidic mulches”). For information on other acidic mulch choices, please consult Choosing the Proper Mulch. Since mulch eventually does break down and become a component of the underlying soil, you might as well go with an acidic mulch. There’s no sense in fighting the acid-loving tendencies of azalea and rhododendron plants.

Pruning Azaleas, Rhododendrons

Pruning azaleas and rhododendrons should be undertaken immediately after they finish blooming (usually June or July). Pruning the bushes later than that risks interfering with the development of next year’s buds. Begin by pruning off dead or injured branches, which could cause disease and insect problems in the future. Then prune back tall, gangly limbs shooting out of the top of the bush. This will promote a more attractive, compact shape.

A proper regimen of pruning azaleas and rhododendrons, in conjunction with the other care tips offered above, will help these flowering shrubs provide your landscape with eye-opening hedges or specimen plants for years to come.
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Tom’s Winter Checklist for Your Garden

To get your 2014 garden ready here is our list of “must do”s” for this month (and yes, do these DURING winter)!

1. Scan seed catalogs (for flowers and veggies).
2. Prune decidous trees (see our reasons below).
3. Leave food and water out for hungry birds.
4. Plant trees, shrubs and perennials.
5. Layer your vegetable garden with compost.

*You want to prune trees in cooler temperatures because in the warmer months, sap rises to the tops of the branches to deliver nutrition and trimming/pruning at this point will result in cutting off some of the trees” food supply.

Questions, concerns or comments? Leave them here and we”ll be happy to respond.

Real Recycling

Real Recycling and “Re-leafing”

Tom’s Outdoor Living is excited to be launching a new service!
Tom’s will now offer “re-leafing”.

We’re not sure if it’s a real word, but we are sure it’s real recycling.

Homeowners who would like to recycle but aren’t able to compost at home and aren’t interested in the municipal efforts to recycle, can call Tom’s and rest assured that their leaves will be turned into compost. They will not burned or otherwise discarded.

Here’s how it works:

  • Pile your leaves under a tarp, curbside and secured with bricks or other heavy item at all four corners of the tarp. The tarp must be 10 x 15 or smaller. There can be multiple piles with tarps, but no more than 150 square feet per pick up. We do ask that no twigs, branches or trash be in with the leaves in order to ensure a seamless process from your lawn to the mulching process.
  • Call or email Tom’s Outdoor Living and schedule a “Re-Leaf” pick up.

What happens to your leaves:

  • After the leaves are picked up, they are taken to Gem’s Dirt in Tulsa. Gem’s then recycles the leaves into mulch.
  • This “recycling cycle” becomes complete as Tom’s purchases and uses a 50/50 compost for their customers’ landscaping projects from Gem’s which contains the recycled leaves!
  • The fee for this recycling service is $65.00. No contracts to sign, just a phone call away when you need your leaves picked up. If you have any questions about our program or would like to schedule a pick up, please call us at 918.695.1653 or send an email to

We look forward to helping you “re-leaf”!

Tom’s Summertime Watering Tips

It’s here. Whether or not  we were really ready for it, the heat is ON. It is Oklahoma after all.  A little planning and execution of  the following watering tips will help keep your yard healthy and protect your investment in your lawn over the next few months.

You can tell if your lawn is becoming dehydrated BEFORE it is too late.  Early signs of a dehydrated lawn include the grass turning a bluish-green color, curling grass blades and footprints that remain visible. Don’t wait until the grass is turning brown. Then it is likely too late to salvage. There are effective ways to water and my recommendations are listed below.

-A good estimate of how much to water your lawn is about an inch of water per week (more may be necessary in long droughts and triple digit days).

-Mornings are the best time to water. It is less susceptible to evaporation and wind.

-Also, watering your lawn just a little bit can cause grassy weeds to develop. 

-Sprinklers are a fairly affordable way to water your lawn, but you  may need to combine portable sprinklers and stationary sprinklers. Depending on the reach of the portable sprinkler, you may want to supplement with stationary ones in order to cover any areas regularly missed.

-Knowing which sprinkler type to buy is helpful. Oscillating sprinklers are good for a larger, rectangular area and revolving sprinklers, which shoot jets of water in a circular motion, are good for smaller areas. Rotary sprinklers are designed to water circular-shaped areas on medium to large lawns.

-Keep sprinklers away from sidewalks and driveways. This will help prevent run off and waste.

-An ideal situation to minimize time and maximize efforts is to invest in an irrigation system. These can be pre-set to water during specific times and dates. They are invaluable during the summer months when many of us take vacations or may be gone for days at a time. They also help to conserve water. City and county water restrictions are usually a result of too many folks watering at once and quite a bit of it is wasted by poorly planned sprinkler systems or ones that are forgotten and left on much longer than is necessary.

There is nothing you can do about the heat, but by sticking to a good watering  and maintenance plan you can have a green and healthy yard this summer.

Feel free to send us your comments or questions. We’re happy to help and welcome your feedback.



March Madness-Moisture and Mulch

  • In case you”re wondering what those funny looking “bags” are around newly planted trees, they are called “tree bags”. Freshly planted trees require consistent watering and this is one of the best ways to ensure the rootball gets the water it needs during this critical transition period. Another way to protect newly planted trees is with mulch. Ideally, mulch should not be layered more then two inches deep. The purpose is to control evaporation and keep nutrients in the soil. Speaking of mulch…here are some tips before you begin mulching:
  • Spring is finally upon us and while that means warmer temperatures, it doesn”t necessarily mean you need to run out and purchase pounds of mulch. The ground in your yard needs time to warm up and  mulching too early will actually slow down the warming process.  Normally, mid to late spring is the best time to put down mulch.
  • Make sure the area(s) being mulched are free of weeds.
  • Water plants first, then apply mulch.
  • Mulch helps control weed growth. It can also keep other (desirable) plants from growing, so don’t overdo it.
  • To prevent stems and bark from rotting, pull mulch away from woody stems and tree trunks one to two inches.  Also, if mulch is touching the plants, pests such as mice and slugs get a hiding place and a free meal.
  • In general, the bigger the pieces or chunks, the deeper the layer needs to be.   Smaller-sized mulches will work their way into the soil more quickly.
  • Aesthetically speaking, consider the size and style of the area where you are placing the mulch.  For example, pine bark nuggets may be too large for a bed of annuals, but perfect for an area around trees or shrubs.
  • Pathways, slopes, and areas prone to flooding or high wind need special consideration.  Mulch will not be the best product to apply here. We suggest something heavier that will stay put.
  • You may very well need to re-apply mulch in the summer (to retain moisture) and in the winter (to prevent frost damage).
  • Questions or comments? We invite you to leave them here or feel free to post on our Facebook page!treebag

How much to use?

  • A one – two inch layer of fine mulch should be sufficient, while a coarser material should be three – four inches deep. Too much of either type can suffocate your plants.
  • Coverage will vary greatly based on what type of mulch you use and how deeply it is layered.
  • One cubic yard of mulch will roughly cover 100 sq. ft. at a 3 inch depth and 160 sq. ft. at a 2 inch depth.
  • 1 cubic yard of mulch = 27 cubic feet = (9) 3 cu. ft. bags or (13.5) 2 cu. ft. bags

Count Down to Spring! Time for Pre-Emergent Treatments!

The term “pre-emergent” essentially means “weed prevention.” It refers to a method for preventing weeds by killing weed seeds and seedlings before they can germinate.  To accomplish this, there are pre-emergent weed control products we use to kill weed seeds before, or as, they try to sprout.

Pre-emergents need to be applied to the soil at least a week prior to germination. Weeds will germinate when the soil is about 54 degrees for approximately four consecutive days assuming the soil has enough moisture. Due to the unusually warm weather, we have already started our pre-emergent services and typically we don’t start treating with a pre-emergent until mid-March.  If you’re concerned about that nasty crabgrass returning from last year, we suggest contacting Tom’s now in order to fend it off for the upcoming growing season.

We’ll even make it easy for you to get rid of those pesky weeds!  Just go to our Facebook page and hit the “like” tab for a chance to win a spray contract from Tom’s.  Three lucky winners will be announced- so the sooner you enter, the sooner you’ll have a chance to win. The contest officially begins March 1st (but feel free to “like” us anytime) and we’ll announce the winners in just a few short weeks. We’ll actually announce the winners on Facebook so check back often to see if you’ve won.

The Tulsa Designer Showcase project is slowly taking shape. Now that we’ve cleared the many layers of debris, landscaping is slated to start this week.  Various plants and shrubs will be planted and irrigation installation will begin as well.  Lighting has been ordered and will be the finishing touch on this project.  The grotto, a very interesting space hidden away in this enormous yard, is almost completed. We can’t wait to see the end result and we hope you’ll mark your calendars to visit the Tandy home during the Tulsa Designer Showcase event.

As the warmer months are quickly approaching, I’ll be posting more often in order to provide timely recommendations, tips and suggestions for your landscaping and gardening projects.  In the meantime, if you have questions- please leave a note in the comment section or feel free to shoot an email to me or post your question on Facebook.


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