Have you noticed the weather has been a lot crazier around here lately?
Apparently, it’s going to get worse.
That means keep an eye on your landscaping needs, say two University of Maryland professors and experts on landscaping and climate change.
Level Green Landscaping recently hosted a networking and educational event held by the Landscape Contractors Association of MD, VA, and DC.
Professors Joseph Sullivan, Ph.D. and Mark Carroll, Ph.D. discussed climate change and its effect on the landscaping industry.
How does climate change impact landscaping in the beltway?
Quite a bit.
Expect Wacky Weather
The nuisance flooding from storms that used to occur in Baltimore and Annapolis is now happening more often, and expected to get worse, according to the University of Maryland Extension.
Baltimore had an average of 1.3 floods per year between 1957 and 1963, while Annapolis had 3.8 annually.
But from 2007 to 2013, Baltimore had an average of 13.1 flood days per year, while Annapolis had more than 39.
Climate change is associated with a wide variability in temperature, the Extension reports.
During the past few years in Maryland, it’s been common to have temperatures fluctuate by 20 to 30 degrees within a single week.
The extreme weather happens in winter, too. In the winters of 2014 and 2015, we had record cold temperatures. Half of the largest snowstorms on record in the region have occurred since 2003.
Expect wetter wet spells and drier droughts. Low temperatures will plummet lower and high temperatures will soar higher.
Hello, Warm Season Grasses
How does climate change impact grasses?
As temperatures rise, warm season grasses will be able to take hold here where they couldn’t before.
But we’ll still get cold weather, and warm season grasses don’t like the cold. That means they’ll turn brown.
Warm season grasses grow differently and are harder to control.
Their lateral root systems creep into flower beds and other places they shouldn’t be.
More Pests and Diseases
Warmer weather allows new and different pests and diseases that couldn’t survive here before.
That puts turf and plant material at greater risk, and challenges the landscaping industry to find ways to combat the new pests.
In landscaping, everything happens on a schedule. We know when to expect drought and when to expect frost.
Climate change upends all that.
While August used to be our likeliest month for drought, now it’s edging toward September or October.
This means landscaping companies have to shift how we staff our crews and care for plant material.
We used to expect a severe drought month every five years. Now, month-long droughts are more common.
Chemicals and Water
Bigger storms with more rushing water means landscaping chemicals will move around more, cascading into waterways in fast-moving rainwater. That affects the way we handle them safely.
What All This Means for Customers
What does climate change’s effect on landscaping mean for you, our customers?
— You might need to increase your water budget because flowers in planters suffer in hotter, drier
— Expect to need a couple more mowings per season.
If the new normal means more rain in the growing season, grass grows faster. If your property is mowed 13 times now, that might increase to 15 times to keep up with the growth.
— How does climate change impact plants? You might need different plants. If a new pest or disease suddenly targets your favorite annual flower or blooming shrub, we’ll suggest you switch to something that won’t get eaten or diseased.
You’ll hear us talk even more about the value of native plants. They’ll adapt better to climate change.
— Plan on more tree work. Instead of one torrential rain with high winds a year, we might get six. That means more tree work to be done, both before and after storms.
We’ll help clients evaluate trees and limbs and recommend if they should be trimmed or taken down for safety.
Stick with Us: We’ll Keep You Posted
How does climate change impact landscaping? There’s a lot we still don’t know.
But as we learn more, we’ll let you know.
Read the communications we send out to stay on top of new pests, new diseases, and changes in response to the evolving environment.
Stay Informed About Climate Change with Level Green
Here at Level Green Landscaping, we’ve been on top of climate change issues for a long time. We’re a green-focused company, so environmental news is always on our radar.
If you’re not already a Level Green Landscaping client, we’d love to add you to our growing list of happy customers. Our focus is on commercial properties like offices, mixed-use sites, HOAs, municipalities and institutions in Maryland, Washington DC and parts of Virginia.
Contact us at 202-544-0968. You can also request a free consultation online to meet with us one-on-one.
We’d love to hear from you.