Lately it has not felt like a cold Winter here in NC; but looking at our plants outside you can clearly see a change has taken place. Leaves have fallen off our deciduous plants and some of our perennial foliage has withered. Not to worry, this is our plants way to survive Winter by going dormant. During dormancy, all plants will slow the growth process down and certain plants will shed its foliage. All of our plants and grass will store nutrients in their root systems and conserve energy needed for the upcoming warmer months ahead once growing season starts again.

During the month of January; Fontaine will be busy protecting our plants with selective pruning, applying a protective coating of mulch and pine straw and treating the soil pH level for our lawns with a lime application.

Mild Winters can allow for the eggs of problematic insect pests such aphids, scale and mites to over-Winter. Then once growing season starts these pests will damage and eat tissue of our plants which harm them. Following Integrated Pest Management (IPM) principles; Fontaine will be protecting our plants with inspections and the use of organic horticultural oils to aid in smothering over-wintering pests and their eggs.

IPM is a highly regarded practice that takes into account common sense and scientific principles as part of being a licensed commercial pesticide applicator for the state of NC.

  • Routine Inspection and understanding weather patterns and its effects on plants
  • Knowing micro climates, soil compaction and how plant stress will increase the chances for pests for a particular plant
  • Using knowledge about the pest’s habits, life cycle, needs and dislikes
  • Using the least toxic methods first, up to and including pesticides
  • Monitoring the pest’s activity and adjusting methods over time
  • Tolerating harmless pests, and
  • Setting a threshold to decide when it’s time to act before harm can be a factor for  the plant

Beautiful plants and grass comes down to proper selection, placement and its care. At times it can be an easy fix by simply replacing the poor performing plants which are high prone to pests with a better cultivar or transplanting plants to a better spot in the yard to reduce stress. Using better plant varieties that are hardier

Fontaine is dedicated to sustaining and improving your exterior environments. If you would like more information regarding IPM, Lawn Care, Mulch or any other services please do not hesitate to call us (919) 380-8286 or

autumn landscape mainIt’s mid Fall and there is still much you can be doing for your yard. Just because it’s colder and leaves are falling doesn’t mean it’s time to ignore your landscape. By keeping up on your yard maintenance, and planning ahead for next year, your outdoor space will continue to look good year-round.

bulbsNovember is an especially good time to plant your spring bulbs. While these plants are referred to as spring-blooming, daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, and crocuses can actually start blooming as early as January. The plants do best where they do not get mid-day sun, making them a great plant for around the base of trees.

If you are planning a flower bed for spring, you will want to do a soil test first. It’s not an immediate turn-around, so the sooner you do it, the sooner you get the results and can prep your soil for planting.

AppleDo you have any fruit trees on your property? If you do, remove any mummified fruits then rake up and dispose of any leaves and branches. They can harbor disease over winter.

Fescue and other cool-season grass lawns should receive their third application of fertilizer. As the name indicates, cool-season grasses do the majority of their growing in the cooler weather, generally between September and June. This is why you should fertilize in the fall and winter and not in the summer. DO NOT fertilize warm-season grasses this late in the season. You can actually harm it by stimulating it to break its dormancy during a warm spell then causing it damage when the temps drop again.

PHOTO/Becky Griffin

PHOTO/Becky Griffin

If you do have warm-season grass and you noticed a fluffy, dandelion-like weed in your lawn during the spring to fall, you may need to treat your turf for trampweed. It’s a common weed in South Carolina, but it is starting to make appearances here in North Carolina according to the NC State Cooperative Extension. You can contact your local extension for advice and a plan of attack. Fescue and cool-season lawns should be treated for this weed in February.

Another lawn weed to treat for is wild garlic and onion. If your number of weeds is low, you can always pull this grass so long as you make sure to remove the bulbs and bublets, otherwise they will regrow. You can also use a trowel and hand dig them out of the turf. Regular mowing won’t kill the weed off, but can prevent it from seeding. There are no preemergence herbicides, only postemergence, and even those will need multiple applications to get the weed under control.

hansen irrig clockHave an irrigation system? Now is the time to winterize it and shut it down before the first freeze. Water will need to be drained from the pump and any water in the system will need to be removed, usually done by pumping compressed air to force all remaining water out. This is very important as any remaining water can freeze in the system causing a crack in the pump casing. Rainfall is usually plentiful for your turf’s needs this time of year, and if you water your lawn, you risk freezing it and that will cause it damage.

leavesDon’t slack on the leaf removal. There are many options for you when it comes to where to put those leaves. You can compost them, mulch them, till them into your plant beds, place them in the woody area behind your house, or bag them. Removing the leaves is crucial for your turf’s health as it deprives it from much needed sunlight, air, water, and nutrients. The leaves also become a breeding ground for fungi and insects. If you plan to mulch the leaves, don’t let the carpet of leaves become too thick or they won’t be shredded evenly.

There is no reason why your turf can’t be happy and healthy during the fall and winter as long as you take proper care of it.

mumsOctober is all about autumn and the change of the season from summer to fall. The cooler weather is not only easy on the electric bill, it’s also easier on your planting. Believe it or not, now is the perfect time to plant trees and shrubs. It’s also a good time to plant your spring-flowering bulbs. That’s right, they may bloom in spring, but you should plant them in the fall. Why? The soil is still warm, the rain plentiful, and the roots have a great chance to establish without worry of drought or snow.

If you haven’t already, you should take note of what worked and what didn’t in your garden before planting your new bulbs. Make sure you don’t plant shade-loving plants in full sun and vice-versa. You may want to do a soil test to make sure your soil isn’t too acidic or need any lime added to adjust the pH. You will need to till the lime into your soil, and since the results of soil tests can take a few days, the sooner you get it done, the better! If you are also doing vegetables, keep track of where you planted. That way, next year you can rotate where you plant in order to prevent disease.

BerkelyIf you are looking to add color to your cooler-weather garden, there are plants that are autumn bloomers. Winter pansies make a great splash of color while hardy mums bring that feel of fall to the landscape. Aster is another flower that will add a pop of color to your garden as well as your indoors. Russian sage can add a contrast to the autumnal colors while smelling great. The tough sedum is almost a must for autumn gardens. It survives summer heat and drought to burst alive with blooms in the fall.

Even though it is autumn, there are still many things you can and should be doing for your lawn. Watch out for white grubs. They not only destroy the turf by feeding on the roots, but they also attract moles and voles who will feed on them. You will find that the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis helps get rid of them, but it does take a little time to build up in the soil. Warm season turf may be fertilized, but do not fertilize cool season (fescue) if it has been overseeded. If you want to establish a cool season lawn, the best window to do so is September 15-October 15. Warm season grasses should be established next spring.



There are two turf weeds you should keep your eyes open for. Henbit is a sparsely hairy winter annual with greenish to purplish, tender, square stems. This weed reproduces by seed that germinate in the fall or winter and grows during any period of warm weather that occurs during the cold season. It can quickly invade thin turf areas where there is good soil moisture or shade. Dense, healthy turf is the greatest defense against the weed, but chemical control can be used as well. another annoying and difficult weed is nutsedge or nutgrass. The best time to eradicate this aggressive and persistent weed is during its growing period. First identify what type of nutsedge you have before using an herbicide.

Start dialing back your irrigation use. The weather is cooler and therefore the plants and lawn less thirsty. In fact, you may want to get your system repaired if there are any issues. Since the lawn doesn’t need constant watering, it gives you more of a window to get someone in to fix it. You will also find an irrigation specialist’s availability more open now rather than the beginning of next season when everyone’s irrigation system is started up.

Pathlight 1

If you have an outdoor landscape lighting system, now would be a good time to ensure all lights are working, especially those lighting paths or entranceways. It’s starting to get darker sooner, making it important for the safety of everyone, that walkways, paths, and anywhere someone might walk, are lit up to prevent tripping and injury. If your lights are on a timer, some adjustment may need to be made (though once daylight savings ends in November, you will definitely need to fix the schedule on your timer).

leavesBesides the leaves on trees turning beautiful colors, they are also falling to the ground. There are many things you can do with those leaves. You can compost them. You can bag them. You can blow them to the woody back area of your property. You can use them for plant protection from the cold in your garden beds. You can till them into fallow garden beds too. Whatever your desire, make sure your landscaping service (or whichever family member is assigned that chore) knows what you would like done with them.

By taking these simple steps to maintain your landscape in the fall, you will end up with a stunning spring and summer outdoors.

ugly lawn pic logoEven though summer is winding down, it doesn’t mean it’s time to neglect your landscape. In fact, there are still many things you need to be doing to help keep your outdoors looking its best.

test tubesLet’s start with the flowers. Most of the blooming will be done for your spring and summer plants, so take note of what worked in your garden and purchase more for next spring. Store them in a cool, dry place until the weather gets cooler, then plant away! But, before you plant, you need to do a soil pH test. You may want to also test your vegetable garden if you don’t plan on fertilizing for any late crops. You should also divide your spring and summer blooming perennials.

brown patchIf you happen to have warm season grass, you can still be dealing with lawn disease such as brown patch and dollar spot, so keep your eyes open and treat accordingly. White grubs can also be present in your soil, and while the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis does a nice job on them, it does take some time for it to build up. Warm season lawns along with hollies can also be afflicted with spittlebugs.

????????????????????????????????????????????Different lawn types are going to require different treatments. Fescue (cool season) turf should be fertilized, aerated, and overseeded. Do not fertilize warm season grass! The planting of cool season lawns is best done between September 15-October 15. It’s best to hold off until next spring for warm season grasses. Henbit and nutsedge (nutgrass) may become a problem. Both can be controlled through herbicide, though nutsedge is a bit more difficult. Irrigation clocks may need to be adjusted as less water is going to be required.

web wormPecan trees may see webworms who should have started appearing in late August. There are both natural and pesticide controllers for this problem. Natural remedies include removing the affected branch and throwing away to handpicking the webworms off and drowning them in soapy water. For pesticide use, Carbaryl (Sevin, etc.) is a good product to rid the lower parts of the tree of webworm (please don’t try to reach the very tops!) The trees can also be afflicted with pecan weevils–little critters that make holes in the pecans.

plantsAnd finally, while we’re on trees, your may see leaves starting to fall. You can compost the leaves, till them into any fallow beds or vegetable garden, or have them blown and removed. Any trees and shrubs that you may want to plant should be planned for now, especially if you don’t want to miss out on them. There are plenty of nurseries around, but their supply is not endless.

August here in North Carolina is still a very hot month. But this doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can and should be doing for your landscape. Below we break down what kinds of things you will need to do or have your landscape company do.


Water your container plants

container plantThis really should be a no-brainer, but people tend to forget their container plants. If the plants are hanging, or kept on your deck, chances are your sprinkler or irrigation system is not getting them. Take a few minutes out of your day to give these poor guys a little attention. They’ll reward you with colorful flowers or delicious veggies.


Deadhead your plants

dead roseNo, this is not some Greatful Dead reference. When the flowers have finished blooming, pinch them off to allow new ones to bloom. It’s an extremely easy way to keep your landscape colorful longer.


Get rid of spent veggie plants

garden toolsIf your vegetable plants have finished producing, as most will be soon, then remove them from your garden in order to prevent them from attracting insects and bringing disease to plants still producing. An ounce of prevention…


Propagate your roses

rose bushWant more rose plants next year? You don’t need to buy any; you can make new plants from your existing ones. The way to do this is to remove two thorns near the top of a flexible stem. Use a clean, sharp knife to do this. Bend the stem toward the ground and make a couple of small cuts in the stem in the area between the removed thorns. Now cover the “wounded” part of the stem with soil as it’s being held down by landscape pins. Keep the growing tip uncovered. (You can use brick or stone to keep the covered “wound” in place.) Come next spring, you should see new growth. When you see new leaves on the rooted stem, remove the entire stem (carefully!) from the main plant. Recut the stem just beneath the new root mass and plant your new rose bush!


Save your pines from pests

redhead sawflyThe Pine Sawfly larvae feed on your pines, mostly damaging them, but in worst cases, can kill them. These caterpillar-looking larvae can start their voracious feast as early as June, but will still be found snacking on pine needles through August. An easy home remedy to this problem is picking the larvae off and dropping them into a bucket of soapy water.


Plan ahead for next year

bulbsNow is the perfect time to think about next year’s landscape. If you know what you would like to plant, preorder your bulbs immediately. This way you won’t miss out when planting season comes, especially if you are looking for a unique and unusual flower. You will find supplies generous and ripe for the picking!


Cut flowers

zinnia-flower_45If you seeded plants in July, seed more again. Enjoy their blooms in your garden as well as in your house. Cut away, give to neighbors, bring to work, and bring a smile to someone’s face.


Fertilize the right plants

fertIf you would like your tomato, eggplant, and pepper plants to continue to produce, give them some fertilizer. Your summer vegetables will like it and benefit from it. Your fall veggies as well as fall-blooming perennials and annuals should be fertilized too. Don’t forget your cannas, chrysanthemums, and dahlias, while reblooming irises could use a light fertilizer application. If your lawn is a warm season grass, now is a good time to fertilize it. Make sure the roots get the needed nutrients from the fertilizer by watering any application.

You don’t want to disturb bud formations on your azaleas, camellias, and summer-flowering shrubs, so do not fertilize them.


Cut your grass at the right height

mowingGenerally during the summer, cool season grasses are cut higher in order to prevent stress and unhealthy turf, while warm season grasses are cut lower. If late July into August is wet and a little cooler, you can lower your warm season grass’ cutting height. Don’t lower it too much though, it’s still hot at times!


Water is not only important for human survival, but also for plant survival. Most people remember to water their plants indoors, but what about outdoors? Sure, the rain takes care of a lot of the watering, however, if it’s a dryer than normal season, you’re going to need to step in.

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As a kid I am sure many of you remember running through the traditional sprinkler. Perhaps it was the kind that goes up and down. Or maybe it was the kind that spun? And then there was the kind that the dance move was named after. (If you don’t know what I am talking about, you need to watch this!) Of course, there’s always the other dance that accompanies the use of the sprinkler: the trying-to-get-it-placed-in-the-right-spot-without-getting-soaked dance. That’s always repeated several times as the sprinkler is moved around the yard to water everything.

If you’re not a dancer, then you should consider an irrigation system instead. There will be no need to move the watering system around the yard, no dance moves trying to stay dry, and no need to hook anything up and remember to turn it on and off. The irrigation system is on a timer allowing you to enjoy your summer without the constant worry of making sure you’ve watered your lawn. You may also notice a reduction in the amount of weeds appearing in your landscape.

hansen irrig clock

An irrigation timer turns the system on and off, letting the homeowner’s mind be on other things.

Now, if you are a sprinkler person, keep this fact in mind: a high arcing spray emitted from a sprinkler may blow away or partially evaporate before it hits the ground. That means you are losing water! It also means you will need to run the water longer, but that can oversaturate the areas that are getting water. Depending on your soil, you may end up with a lot of run-off. That again means you are losing water. An irrigation system will give you better control of your soil’s moisture.

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Another bonus of an irrigation system is the fact that is great for your home’s value. It keeps your lawn and landscape looking like a million bucks (and with the amount of money you probably invested in it, you need to keep it looking that way!) creating curb appeal. While it’s a cliché, you could be the envy of your neighborhood!

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Summer is an excellent time to have the system installed. This way the installers can see which areas will need more watering, which areas are shadier, and adjust your system accordingly. Your system will need to be shut off for the winter and started back up in the spring. Periodic inspection of the system is a good idea throughout the season in order to make sure everything is working right. A broken head or line will prevent your plants and lawn from getting the water it needs. Catching the problem sooner than later will save them.

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While a homeowner could install an irrigation system him/herself, it can’t be done in a weekend and requires proper adjustments of the system. A professional can install it and adjust it a lot quicker as they know what to look for and have the experience needed.

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You have a light on the front of your house and the back. That’s enough, right? For some, maybe, but for those who want more out of their landscape and use of the outdoors, lighting is a very important thing! Not only is outdoor landscape lighting a great safety feature, it also enhances your home’s architectural features and adds a sense of drama to your landscape.

Do you have an outdoor area that gets no use when the sun goes down? This is where good lighting comes in handy. Obviously a flood light will illuminate a large area, but perhaps you’d like something more intimate? By adding lights to your deck posts, you can create a great place for dining and late night hanging out. Why should the dark send your friends home when the conversation is just getting started? And if you have a pool, not only would the lights be a safety feature, but also a way to extend the use of it well into the night. (If you’re a parent, when will you get use of it other than after the kids are in bed!)

Pool Lighting


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Let’s talk boundary lighting. If you find that your friends and family tend to stay close to the house, you probably have some dark spots out in the yard. By adding lights to your property’s boundary area, you expand your yard’s usefulness and will draw people further away from the house. This is especially helpful if you have another seating area in your yard, such as a pergola and bench or gazebo.



If you have invested in a landscape design and installation, you should get the most bang for your buck. By adding lights that highlight trees and plants, you can make the most of your landscaping at all times of night and day. Instead of staring at drapes or blinds, or out a black window, wouldn’t it be nice to see your yard while having dinner or relaxing in your living room? (Do keep in mind though that you will not want too much light to seep into bedrooms, so plan your outdoor lighting accordingly.)


Of course there’s always the aesthetic value that outdoor landscape lighting brings. Dramatic lighting can increase the appeal of certain areas of your landscape. You can focus on a fountain or pond, highlighting the water’s movement. Plants with interesting shapes, such as “weeping” branches, or colorful flowers bathed in light will bring more value to your investment. The illumination further makes your house stand out by boosting its curb appeal at night.



It goes without saying that landscape lighting is one of the best security and safety installations you can do. By lighting up usually dark areas of your yard, you prevent prowlers and intruders from having a place to hide. A well-lit area is no friend to someone who wants to break in unnoticed. Lit pathways not only look good, but they decrease the chance of someone tripping on them. One thing a homeowner does not want is a friend or neighbor breaking an ankle on his or her property!


With many options out there, choices can be overwhelming. To help you, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Where are the dark areas of my yard?
  2. Where would I like friends and family to spend time outdoors at night?
  3. What are potential hazards for my friends, family and visitors?
  4. What would I like a focal point to be in my nighttime landscape?
  5. What architectural features of my home would I like to highlight at night?

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