April 16, 2014

This is a good time of year to go over some of the do’s and don’ts of lawn care.   It may not always be as simple as it seems.  You may be falling for some common lawn care myths. If so, your lawn and yard could be suffering.

Don’t be afraid to change up some of the things you do in regards to lawn care.  Making some easy changes can yield immediate benefits and pay off down the road.

All Grass Is Not the Same. The type of grass you have could determine what kind of lawnmower is best for your yard. Large lawns with thick, tough grass require lawn mowers with bigger wheels and more horsepower.

Mowing Crabgrass Does Not Mean the Crabgrass is Gone.  Mowing crabgrass actually makes it harder to get rid of because it will then start to grow flat and wide, rather than tall and upright. Crabgrass will also generate seeds until winter comes so it’s very important to properly remove all crabgrass.

Know How To Water Your Lawn. Having a lawn sprinkler system is a huge plus for your yard and lawn. Yet, it’s very important to know how and when to give water to your lawn. Most lawns won’t need water every day. In fact, most lawns only need an inch to 1 ¼ inches of water per week. A lawn sprinkler system with a timer can help you regulate your watering with a set schedule for water your lawn. It’s also a good idea to water the lawn in the early to mid-morning hours.

Your Lawn Will Need Fertilizer. Every time your lawn is mowed, the lawn loses some of its natural nutrients. Fertilizer helps restore your lawn to its natural state. It’s a good idea to fertilize once in the spring and once in the fall.

April 10, 2014

Getting Your Sprinkler System Ready For Spring

It seems spring is finally here for much of the country. This means it’s time to get your lawn sprinkler system ready for the spring and summer season ahead.

If your lawn sprinkler system is just coming out of hibernation, you’ll want to make sure your system is in good operating condition.  This often means calling your local lawn service to make sure everything within your sprinkler system is running properly. It also means you, as a diligent homeowner, need to look out for some things as well.

Long winters can cause leaks. This means wasted water and a more expensive water bill. Landscapers say it’s a good idea to first check for problems above ground.  You should also check your water meter to make sure the system is not leaking. You can also wait and check your water bill. A higher-than-usual bill could indicate a leak.

If your lawn irrigation system is tied to a pump and well, you may need to prime your pump back up if you drained it. If you have questions, check with your lawn care professional. Some people will choose to fully drain the pump, which may not be necessary if you provide adequate insulation to the pump to keep it from freezing.

It’s also important to make sure the ground is thawed before using the sprinkler system. Just because spring is officially here does not mean we won’t see the occasional hard frost in April. The soil in the yard should not be so hard that it can’t be moved or penetrated with a shovel. You want the soil to be pliable.

These are all basis things that should be done before using your lawn sprinkler system this spring. It’s still a good idea to contact a lawn care professional to make sure you have all your bases covered before using the lawn sprinkler system for the first time this spring.

April 2, 2014

Moving Out the Moss

Moss on your lawn can be unsightly. Moss can also be a sign of something in your yard that is impacting conditions for growing grass.

Things like low soil pH, poor drainage, excessive shade and lack of needed nutrients in the soil could all contribute to moss in the yard. This is why it’s so important to take steps to permanently get rid of the moss in your yard, rather than just pulling up patches of moss. It’s usually not hard to simply pull up the moss.  Most moss is shallow-rooted, so it can often be pulled up or raked.  Problem is, this may just be a temporary solution.

There’s a chance the moss is sprouting because your lawn lacks fertilizer. Moss will often grow where grass strands are malnourished. Feeding your lawn a fertilizer with nitrogen will help increase the density of the lawn.  It’s always a good idea to fertilize at least once in the spring and once in the fall.

Too much moisture can also bring out the moss. It’s important that your lawn gets a regular helping of water. This is where a lawn sprinkler system with a timer can really pay off. But it’s also important to make sure over-saturation does not occur. This can also happen if part of your lawn sits in a poor drainage area.

By the same token, too little moisture can also breed moss, especially in the summertime. Brown is a bad color for a lawn. Lawns that are not regularly irrigated will turn brown quickly during the sunny, hot times of summer.

There are many products that help kill moss in yards.  One option is moss-control soap. This can often be found in a hose-end sprayer.

Sometimes, getting rid of moss permanently means getting rid of thatch. Power de-thatching machines can be rented at many mower dealerships. You can also have a trained landscaper do the job to make sure it’s done safely and effectively.

March 25, 2014

Getting Rid of Standing Water

Standing water. It can be a problem for many homeowners. “I love my lawn sprinkler system but I have standing water in my yard. How do I get rid of the standard water?”

There are ways to get rid of the water and it’s important to do so. Standing water can lead to poor soil on top of the water. This can cause the roots of nearby plants to rot and drown.  If the standing water is within ten feet of the foundation of your home, the water can eventually work its way into the home.  Mosquitoes also breed in standing water.

Spreading soil will not be enough to get rid of the standing water. Some sort of drainage system will need to be established.

Dig a trench from the area with the standing water to the lowest part of the yard, preferably a drainage ditch.  Make the start of the trench area six inches deep and five inches wide.

You’ll need a four-inch perforated, flexible drainage pipe. Cut the drain pipe so that it’s the same length as the trench.  Cut a sheet of mesh screen into two circles that are six inches in diameter.

Take those mesh circles and place them over the pipe. Secure with duct tape to keep debris from entering the pipe. Lay the pipe in the bottom of the trench with the perforations facing upward.

Cover the pipe with one inch of gravel to keep the soil out of those perforations. Fill in the rest of the trench with the soil.

Keep an eye on the roof and gutters of your home. The water all needs to go somewhere. Make sure the water that comes out of those areas does not create another situation where you are dealing with standing water. 

March 18, 2014

Growing a Green Grass

So you think a lush, green grass is not something you can achieve? Think that kind of lawn is for the other guy, the neighbor down the road with the perfect yard, beautiful wife and trustworthy dog that NEVER does his business in someone else’s yard?

OK, maybe you’re right.  Maybe the green lawn of splendor is not for you. Maybe you think it’s just too much darn work. If you don’t want to put in a little time and effort then, yeah, your lawn will probably stay as brown as a lunch bag. But why concede lawn care defeat?

Establishing a beautiful, green lawn is not a full-time job. It just takes a little time and know-how. 

Know your sprinkler system.  Hydration is important. Your lawn needs water. If you've invested in a top-notch lawn-sprinkler system, you’re ahead of the game. You’re going to want to make sure your lawn has enough water to soak in and absorb vital nutrients.  Your grass will be at its greenest when it gets an optimal amount of water. If you are living in a dry climate, a lawn irrigation system will really pay off.

Early in the morning is a great time to water lawn. There is less sun and usually less wind. This also leaves your lawn with a full day to dry. And be careful about watering at night. You’ll see lots of sprinklers on early in the evening during summer, but it’s important to know that watering later in the day can lead to mildew and fungus.

In addition to water, a lawn’s gotta eat. Nutrients are essential for strong roots. Fertilizer should be applied early in the spring months and again several weeks later. When choosing a fertilizer, adhere to the schedule on the manufacture’s label.

Don’t stop at just fertilizer. If you really want that great green look to your lawn, look for a product designed specifically to promote green, healthy lawns. There are some excellent eco-friendly lawn products designed to give your lawn a green look.

March 12, 2014

Spring Cleaning...For Your Yard

Spring will soon be here (it’s true). It’s time to do some spring cleaning…in your yard.

The winter months can be harsh on lawns and gardens. It will soon be time to get that water sprinkler system out of winter storage and ready for watering duty.  Your lawn will need nutrition.  Still, it’s important not to overdo it with the watering. Overwatering and mowing when your grass is wet can spread fungal problems left over from winter.

It’s a good idea to give your lawn a light raking at the beginning of spring, to help clean up and dead grass or leaves still leftover from winter.

Soil compaction can also be a lawn problem early in the spring. Soil compaction occurs when the soil becomes densely packed.  This makes it difficult for grass to take root and allows roots to cause all the problems roots can cause. Grab a garden fork and stick it in the ground. If the teeth fail to penetrate more than two inches, you’ve got soil compaction. Use an aerator to loosen the soil in the yard.

Spring is also a good time to have your lawn’s pH balance, especially if you have not done so in a few years.  Contact a lawn care professional to conduct the test. The results will tell you if your lawn is getting the right minerals in the proper amount.

The pH test can also tell you if you need to add lime to your lawn. Spring is a great time to add lime.

Be careful with fertilizer. Just because the lawn looks a little brown after a rough winter, does not mean it’s a good idea to just throw down a bunch of fertilizer.

It’s not just the lawn. Spring is also a great time to plant those garden vegetables. Good seeds to plant this time of year include: snap beans, carrots, radishes, squash and sunflowers.

March 4, 2014

The Benefits of Topdressing

As we inch closer to spring, we begin to think about what we will need to be done for lawn care once the snow and cold finally goes away.

We know about things like grass side and fertilizer. Don’t forget about topdressing. 

Simply put, topdressing a lawn means putting a thin layer of material over the lawn.  It can be made up of compost or another type of soil amendment. The material, which should not be more than a half-inch thick, is usually spread over the turf. It showed be applied with a shovel, in a throwing motion.  The material can be allowed to settle on its own.  In addition to compost, topdressing material can also be things like mulch, peat, loam or a combination.

There are several benefits to using topdressing. One benefit is improving the existing soil.  Topdressing can improve drainage in clay soils and improve moisture in sandy soils. Topdressing should benefit a yard’s soil by adding nutrients and allowing the grass to absorb those nutrients. This also allows the lawn a better chance to fight off disease. It does this by boosting healthy organisms in the soil. Good topdressing will also improve soil biology by adding organic matter and beneficial micro-organisms.

Topdressing can also help fight thatch in yards. Thatch is a layer of dead stems, roots and other material that develops between healthy vegetation and the soil. Excess thatch can cause problems for a lawn. Taking a lawn rake to areas of excess thatch, then applying topdressing can help re-energizes areas of your lawn.

Topdressing can also be used as a healthy “filling”. It can fill in depressions and sink holes in lawns and level out any imperfections.

An annual spread of topdressing, along with regular mowing and sprinkler system use, can help keep your lawn green for years to come.

February 26, 2014

Getting Rid of Snow Mold

Spring will soon be here (no, it’s true) and it will be time to get the water sprinkler system out of winter storage and start thinking about lawn care again.

Of course, there might be a leftover from Old Man Winter and it might be doing damage to your lawn.

We are talking about snow mold.

Snow mold is a fungal disease that often appears in the early spring, right around the time the snow (hopefully) melts. There are two types of snow mold, grey snow mold and pink snow mold. Don’t let the name fool you.  This pink is not pleasant. Pink snow mold is the more severe of the two types of mold because it can infect the crown of the plant whereas grey snow mold only affects the leaf tissue.

You don’t want any snow mold on your lawn. Snow mold tends to look like circular patches of dead and matted grass. You may also notice a white or pink color around the edges of the patch. 

Once you've identified snow mold on your lawn, it’s time to take action. First thing to do it try and remove any remaining snow piles on your lawn. After you've gotten rid of the snow, get out a rake and rake the patches of snow mold. Raking the snow mold patches will help loosen matted grass and help the lawn recover quicker. Be careful not to tear out all the grass. Raking will also encourage drying. Once the infected area has dried, the infection should go away and the grass will start to grow out.  You can help with the healing process by applying some grass seed. Sometimes, over-seeding is necessary. If the snow mold damage is severe, adding some topdressing to the infected areas can help re-generate the growth of turf.

February 19, 2014

Covering Those Bald Spots

For much of the country, this has been the winter of “too much snow”. It may be hard to believe but spring is only about a month away. It’s true.  You’ll be getting that lawn sprinkler system out of hibernation in no time.
Spring is also a good time to take a look around your yard and lawn to determine if there are any imperfections that need to be fixed.  Like bald spots.

We are not talking about the type of bald spot that you hide with a comb-over or a bad toupee.  We’re talking about bald spots on the lawn.

Fear not, there are things you can do to get your lawn looking fuller and richer. Experts say the first thing to do is try and determine the cause of the bald spot.  Fungi, bugs and grubs can all cause bald spots. If none of these is the culprit, some fresh grass seed might do the trick.

That’s good news with spring on the horizon. Once the ground temperature gets around 52 degrees, seeds will grow. Remember, those seeds will need water. That’s where that lawn sprinkler system will come in handy.

Once you've identified your bald spot (the one on the lawn) and you've got your seed, you’re ready to start digging. Use a shovel or sharp spade to cut the area around the dead turf. Use the flat part of the spade to lift off the dead turf. Fill the area with fresh, clean topsoil to keep it level with the rest of the yard. Rake the area to remove clumps and make sure everything is smooth.  Now can apply a thin layer of seeds to the area. Gently rake the seeds into the topsoil.

Make sure to water those seeds early in the morning and early in the evening. This should all help eliminate those unsightly bald spots.

February 14, 2014

A Level Lawn

Sometimes it’s hard to keep things even in our lives. Life will throw us some curveballs. Keeping things level isn’t always easy, but there things you can even out…like your lawn.

Keeping your lawn level and looking green means removing bumps and hollows. It’s not as hard as it sounds. You’ll need some basic equipment and the folks at HGTV have provided step-by-step guidelines to help you level your playing field.

Now, back to that equipment. Here is what you will need:
·         Half-moon cutter
·         Turfing spade
·         Gardening fork
·         Top dressing
·         Pre-seeder fertilizer
·         Lawn seed
·         Broom
·         Garden hose

After you have the equipment, the first thing to do is check over the lawn for any problems.  Then you are ready to start digging:

Use the half-moon cutter and slice a cross shape right through the center of the bump or hollow. Make the cut as even as possible.  Using the turfing spade, cut while making a slicing motion. Your cut should be about two inches deep. Keep the turfing spade as flat as possible to keep turf at an even thickness.  You can now peel back the flaps of turf.  Try not to break them up.  If you are only leveling out a bump, dig out the soil until it is level with the surrounding area.

Now you need to fill in any hollow parts of the lawn.  Fork over the soil to a depth of just about two inches. This should break up any large clumps. Make sure to remove any large stones. After digging, tread down lightly and start filling each hollow area until it is level with the surrounding soil. Use a quality top dressing for the fill. Rake it to break down the soil. Add the pre-seeder fertilizer to the soil.  Gently fold back the flaps of turf. Firm each one down by using the back of a rake.  Start at the edges of the square and work your way to the center of the flap.

If you still have cracks, brush in some of the top dressing. This will help prevent the edges of the turf from drying out. It will also help the next time you use your sprinkler system to water the lawn.  Watering the lawn will help firm up the areas that were leveled off.