Pugh’s Earthworks Blog

Benefits of Mulching


Why is mulching important?  Increased amounts of organic matter will improve soil tilth and drainage, increase soil moisture retention, reduce soil compaction, and attract earthworms. Because organic mulches decompose, they need to be replaced. Depending on the type of mulch used, replacement intervals vary from one to four years.  If your business is ready for a new round of mulch please give us a call so we can get you on our schedule.

Container Gardens Make Properties More Attractive, Pugh's Earthworks

container gerdens

Container gardens make a lovely addition around entrances and in places where a little greenery is needed to soften and decorate.  Bedding plants including annuals, perennials, small shrubs and ornamental trees make excellent mixes for container gardening. Rule of thumb is to have a tall plant in the center and draping flora around the edges. Fill in other areas with a combination of blooming and green plants keeping in mind not to over crowd the planter and drown out some of the mix.  Pugh's Earthworks maintains these container gardens on some of our properties where there is enough water and shade to keep them beautiful all summer long. 

Annual Color and Fertilization, going on now! Pugh's Earthworks

Springtime in Memphis, Nashville, Little Rock, Jackson MS and Jackson TN are all ready to get annual color installations.  Color (bedding plants) are warm accents that make commercial properties more inviting and have the curb appeal businesses are looking for.  The end of April in southern climates is the perfect time for adding bedding plants to landscape beds. Flowers add color and texture and richness to landscaped areas. 

Late spring is also time to apply fertilizer to turf for maximum growth all summer long.  Strong and healthy turf requires the proper blend of nutrients. At Pugh's Earthworks, we take great pride in keeping our properties green all summer long.

  pink flowers

Crape Murder? Pugh's Earthworks takes care of the Crape Myrtle properly.

row of crape myrtles Pughs Earthworks

Topping trees is almost always wrong and harmful, but when it comes to doing this to the lovely crape myrtle, it's referred to as 'Crape Murder'. This practice is done by home owners and some landscapers alike, most likely due to misinformation and seeing their peers doing this practice as well.  A lot of pruning efforts are culture based and not based on the science of horticulture.

While the name implies that the tree will die from this act, it's a very resilient species. What this practice actually does is to keep the tree from reaching it's beautiful potential.  When pruned properly, the Crape Myrtle has a vase shape that accenuates it's beautiful blooms and satiny bark. It's one of the South's most versitile landscaping trees.

The most common reason for pruning these hearty trees is that they have gotten too tall for their space. In that instance, it's better to replace the trees with plants that fit the space better and transplant the crape myrtle to a better area where they can grow and shine.

To properly prune these 'lilacs of the south' follow these simple steps:

  • Remove the suckers from the bottom of the tree.
  • Remove broken, crossed or diseased limbs. If two limbs are crossed, remove the weaker of the two.
  • Prune just the tips of the brances to remove the old blooms.  When blooms are removed another blooming may occur.
  • Thin out the small, twiggy growth to allow air to circulate in the canopy of the tree.

If a previous landscaper has committed this crime, there are measures that can be taken to  return the tree to it's beautiful potential.  It will take years but can be done by cutting the tree back within one to two inches of the ground. When new shoots emerge, select 3 to 5 of the strongest branches on each trunk and remove the others. After 3 - 5 years of growth the tree will be back to it's lovely shape with branches full of blooms. Whether in Memphis, Nashville, Little Rock or Jackson the crape myrtle is a staple of landscape design.


Topping trees is always an ill-advised practice, but when it is done to crape myrtles it falls under the crime known as “crape murder.”

This widespread pruning technique is performed by both landscapers and homeowners, mostly likely because they see many of their peers doing so. There are many reasons as to why people commit crape murder, but it mostly comes down to misinformation.

“It makes people comfortable, when they are doing what many others are doing,” Edward Gilman, a professor of environmental horticulture at the University of Florida, told The Washington Post. “The way people prune trees in the U.S. is largely not rooted in science. A lot is culture-based.”

While the accusatory name of the act implies that you’re killing the tree, its resilient nature enables it to recover from such severe buzz cuts. What is really being destroyed are the tree’s chances of reaching its full beautiful potential.

Crape myrtles, when pruned properly, have an elegant vase shape that shows off both their bright blooms and satiny bark. Those that are “murdered” develop knobs when they are repeatedly topped over the years and grow a witches’ broom of thinner, weaker branches.


When pruning a crape myrtle, you should be cutting to see through them, not over them.
Photo: Ryan Somma/Flickr

The most common rationale for topping crape myrtles is when the tree has outgrown its space. In this situation, it is better to replace the plant with a variety that is a more suitable size rather than mutilate the old one. When the proper cultivar is selected for the space, these trees do not need to be pruned every year.

Another claim pro-toppers will make is that it will encourage blooming. It actually produces larger but fewer blooms on thin branches that cannot support them.

To prove their point about how unhelpful crape murder is, the North Carolina Urban Forestry Council conducted a case study with photos showing the difference.

No matter how individuals try to justify it, there is no true benefit to tree topping and crape myrtles are no exception. To properly prune one of the “Lilacs of the South,” follow these basic steps:

  • Remove suckers from the bottom of the plant.
  • Remove crossed, damaged or diseased branches. For crossed branches, remove the weaker of the two limbs rubbing.
  • Prune the tips of the branches to remove old flowers. If old blooms are removed, a second blooming may occur.
  • Thin out small twiggy growth to allow air to better circulate in the canopy.

If a client or a previous landscaping company has committed crape murder, all is not lost, but it will take drastic measures and time for the tree to recuperate. There are two options when it comes to rehabilitating a crape myrtle. One is to choose the strongest two or three sprouts from each stub and then remove all the other sprouts. Continue this procedure for a few seasons and the tree should improve and become stronger.

The more extreme choice is to cut the tree back to within one or two inches of the ground during dormancy. After two or three weeks of growth, choose three to five of the strongest shoots on each trunk and remove the others. Remove the new shoots that emerge later. Three to five years later the crape myrtle will have returned to the form that nature intended.

The best way to stop this maiming tradition is to spread the word and educate your customers and your colleagues in the green industry.

- See more at: http://www.totallandscapecare.com/business-best-practices/stop-crape-murder/?utm_source=daily&utm_medium=email&utm_content=02-06-2017&utm_campaign=Total%20Landscape%20Care&ust_id=6cd6bf00bb502c85e9f468b57aa815c2#sthash.qG3gL3ur.dpuf

Drainage Experts, Keep your Landscape Flowing Properly

checking the numbers small  trench for drain pipe small

Water is the most powerful force on earth. It's damaging powers can wreak havoc on your property.  Drainage work for commercial properties is one of our specialties at Pugh's Earthworks. Our goal is to keep your properties safe, beautiful and operating efficiently.  If you have a problem area that needs help with rain water flow, we are here for you. Contact us and we will send our drainage expert out to take a look.  As spring nears, rainfall will increase.  Now is the time to address any potential drainage problems.  Contact us here.

Top 10 Landscaping Resolutions for 2017

pughs earthworks happy new year rev

Landscaping Resolutions for 2017

Landscaping resolutions may not be what you think of when it comes to New Years goals. However, if kept, they will add up in long term satisfaction with your property.  Landscape design and maintenance will take planning and preparation, organization, and physical effort; all of which are great qualities to shoot for in the new year.  Once your goals are realized; you can enjoy time with family and friends or simply relax while you enjoy your accomplishments. Now that makes a very happy new year!

Here are a few ideas to ponder to beef up your landscaping:

  1. Define my particular landscaping preferences and styles, then incorporate into a unified design. Dawson McCown of Pugh's Earthworks is our expert in design and architecture. 
  2. Remove any dead, damaged or diseased plants and tree limbs that are beyond saving.
  3. Build a patio or deck. You will enjoy entertaining family and friends this spring and summer.
  4. Install a water feature or swimming pool to create a soothing atmosphere that will aid in relaxation.
  5. Incorporate low maintenance plants and sustainable foliage where desired, to decrease the amount of maintenance and upkeep involved in keeping your landscape in tip top shape. These easy growing plants will save time and money in the long run.
  6. Add an outdoor fireplace, firepit, kitchen or gazebo for a great gathering place to entertain guests.
  7. Grow some plants that will enhance my spring landscape. These include bulbs of all kinds which appear when temperatures rise in the spring.
  8. Grow some plants that will enhance my summer landscape.
  9. Grow some plants that will enhance my fall landscape. These can include pansies, mums, ginko trees, maple trees, burning bush and evergreens.
  10. Incorporate ideas to add pop to my winter landscape. Factor in lighting for holiday festivity. Have a little fun with it.

Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas from Pugh's Earthworks!

Merry Christmas from the Pugh family and staff! We would like to wish you a very happy new year.  As 2017 nears, we encourage to to spend time considering any capital improvements your property may need. Let us provide you suggestions to make your property it's best.  Whether in Memphis, Nashville, Jackson MS, Jackson TN, or Little Rock AR, we can factor in the climates of each area and make your property shine!

We are taking the week after Christmas off to be with family.  We will see you in 2017!

poinsettia pughy

Curb appeal, how important is it for your business?

How Important is Curb Appeal?

Ready to jazz up your curb appeal? Here is an easy 4-step plan:

  1. First, consider how the front of your business looks to passers-by. The façade of a building is the single most important factor determining its curb appeal. It’s the first impression that customers will see of your business. Attractive signage, uncluttered windows and fresh paint can go a long way in presenting your business at its best.
  2. Next, consider your signage. It should be in plain view and easy to read. It should also be made out of quality materials. Remember the old saying “you get what you pay for” and avoid cheap-looking material. Choose a sign that complements the business district that you’re located in. If you’re in a shopping center your sign should match the size, style and material of the other businesses in the center. And remember to check with your local permit office to learn if you need a sign permit.
  3. Take a look at your parking area. You’ll want ample, convenient parking on a paved lot with clear markings. Lots should be well-maintained; potholes should be fixed and faded lines should be repainted. If you’re located in an urban area with lots of asphalt and no trees, consider adding tree islands and evergreen shrubs. This can make a huge impact on your curb appeal while at the same time improving the environment. Remove grass that invariably grows in cracks next to curbs and sidewalks as well as in parking lots.
  4. Finally, keep landscaping well-maintained and well-manicured. Updating your business landscaping with simple evergreen shrubs can have a huge impact at relatively low-cost. Consider adding color to your site with knock-out roses. They’re hardy in a southern climate and are being used more frequently in privately-owned commercial projects as well as publicly-owned street medians. If you have Crape Myrtle trees on your property keep the “suckers” – all the new shoots that occur around the base of Crape Myrtle trees – trimmed away. And don’t forget to keep the public sidewalk in front of your business free from weeds, tree limbs and other debris.

The Bottom Line

For better or worse, your business will be judged by its appearance. Fortunately, your business’ image is within your control. Consider these tips and implement those your business needs and contact Pugh's Earthworks to help with your landscaping needs.

curb appeal pughs earthworks

©2014 Pugh's Earthworks
Logo PughsflowersLogo Goinggreen

Read Our Blog

Web Development by Mellon Consulting Group, LLC