Thinking ahead for spring lawn care

Justin was featured on talking about spring lawn care. Check out Justin's contribution below and read the full article at

Thinking ahead for spring lawn care

By Dan Copp

The name Justin Stelter has become synonymous with gardening and landscaping throughout Middle Tennessee. In addition to serving as the director of garden and grounds at Carnton Plantation for more than 10 years, Stelter maintains gardens for nearly 200 private clients.

Stelter has served as the historic garden consultant at the Hermitage from 2009-2012 and serves as a board member of the Southern Garden History Society. In addition, he also serves as a board member of the Professional Landscape Association of Nashville Tennessee and was voted onto the board of Nashville City Cemetery. He is the Third Vice President of the Tennessee Nursery and Landscape Association.

Some of Stelter’s high-end services include complete boxwood care, dry-stacked stone work and espalier installation.

“While those specialty services are unique, it’s our attention to detail in every aspect of our service that sets us apart,” he said.

Although you may not be able to see your lawn right now due to the recent snowfall, Stelter said that planning ahead is paramount.

“It is very important to begin planning your landscape now for several reasons, but the reason I emphasize the most is that proper planning takes time,” he said. “A good, well-balanced design should be both beautiful and functional in all seasons. Winter is the season to take stock of the structure and spatial relationship of a site.”

One key advantage of early lawn-care planning is the additional time that can be dedicated to allow a concept to fully flourish, Stelter said.

“Too many times, projects are rushed to meet a deadline and corners are cut or the concept is not fully realized,” he said. “Extra time is a safeguard against this. Extra time almost always ensures a better plan. Our secrets for a successful lawn and landscape really aren’t secrets; they are old-fashioned, time-tested truths. Each day we wake up as a unified team and strive for excellence by listening to our customers and focusing on the details. In the short-term, many can create something that seems great. But our process is dedicated to the long-term greatness of a site.”




The Benefits of Using Dormant Oil

Dormant oil is a horticultural oil sprayed on plants during their dormant period. The oil naturally repels, discourages feeding, and suffocates problematic pests. Additionally, some fungal diseases like powdery mildew can be controlled. 

The use of dormant oil is a safe and effective way to help control pests such as aphids, caterpillar eggs, mites, scale, thrips and whiteflies while less likely having a negative impact on beneficial insects.

Originally, dormant oil applications were sprayed on fruit trees as a safe alternative to reducing damaging pests because many pesticides could not be sprayed during the growing season for fear of eradicating beneficial insects; especially those that pollinate the fruit. So, dormant oils were the solution.

Now, with improved technology, there are pesticides that are safe to apply during the pollination period, but dormant oils are still an effective method to control problematic pests during the dormant season.

There are two types of dormant oils: vegetable-based and petroleum-based. Organic gardeners prefer vegetable-based dormant oil because residue and toxicity are minimized.

Dormant oils can be sprayed on fruit trees, shade trees and woody ornamental plants that have experienced pest problems during the growing season.

Although dormant oils evaporate quickly, use caution when applying to trees such as Maple, Redbud, Hickory, and Walnut. Phytotoxicity can occur. One example of phytotoxicity damage is leaf burn which occurs if the oil retains or attracts too much heat. Blackened branches or yellowing foliage is the result of this burn. 

Take care when applying dormant oil on certain evergreens. In particular, apply as little as possible on a shady day and follow up with water to keep the foliage from becoming stressed. Additionally, plants under drought stress have an increased risk of injury and can experience leaf burn.

You are the best judge of when and if you should spray your plants. Plants should be sprayed if there were pest problems throughout the previous year. The best time to apply dormant oil is during the winter when buds are swollen but not yet open. To prevent damage, do not apply dormant oils during extreme hot or cold temperatures; if plants are wet; humidity is high; or if sulfur or pesticides containing sulfur have been applied to the plant in the past month. 

Now that you know some of the basics, apply dormant oil as a layer of prevention and a source of protection for your plants. Always read the label before spraying.

For additional information about dormant/horticultural oils, click here