July 28, 2014

Curbing Fast Grass

Is your grass growing too fast? It’s not a silly question (well, not usually). Grass that grows too fast can be difficult, but not impossible, to maintain.

First thing first: If your grass does seem to be growing at a rapid rate, keep up with the mowing. You’ll need to stay consistent with your mowing schedule and not let the grass grow too high. You may even need to mow more than once a week.

Raise the setting on your lawn mower. This seems counterproductive. It’s not. Mowing actually encourages lawn growth, especially if the lawn is cut closer to the ground. Grass that’s left a little higher tends to grow a little slower.

Leave the grass clippings on the lawn. This will provide nutrients to the lawn that it would get with fertilizer.

Want to slow down your rapid lawn growth? Add slower-growing grass. Zoysia grass is an example of a grass that grows slower than most. 

Cut down on the fertilizer. This is especially true if you've been nitrogen fertilizers. This does not mean the lawn should go without nutrients. Every lawn needs food (or it won’t be a lawn for too long). Use smaller amounts of fertilizer or slow-release fertilizer.

Don’t overwater your lawn. Keep the watering to once a week, including rainfall. Also water in the early part of the day. A lawn sprinkler system with a timer can help you regulate the day and time you water the lawn. This safeguards against forgetting when or if you watered the lawn during the week.

Be careful using chemical inhibitors. You can usually find chemical inhibitors at home and garden stores. These products are designed to inhibit growth but you need to be careful with them or you could do damage to your lawn. Be conservative in the application and follow directions.

July 22, 2014

Start Planning for Fall Lawn Care

It’s late July.  We still have plenty of summer left to enjoy. Most people are not ready to think about fall just yet.

Yet if you are a homeowner with a lawn, now is a good time to think about what needs to be done to you our lawn once the leaves turn and a chill seeps into the air.  Think of this as a pre-fall planning guide for your lawn.

If you also have a garden, this is the month to begin those fall garden preps.  Some plants that were planted in the early part of spring may need some attention. If you need to harvest plants, the best time to do so is early in the morning. Any produce that’s been basking in the summer heat should be soaked in cool water.

Back to your lawn. Fall is a great time for a feeding. Fertilizing in the fall is great for turf grasses. A slow release, natural fertilizer will be perfect for delivering much-needed nutrients to the lawn. And don’t forget the watering. Your lawn will need water after the fertilizer. This is where a lawn sprinkler system comes in handy.

It’s also important to keep mowing in the fall. Mow the lawn with the blades at the same height as they've been throughout the summer. In the late fall, adjust the mower blades to their lowest settings. This will allow sunlight to reach the base of the grass before winter.

Rake the leaves or mow them with a mulching lawn mower. Wet leaves that accumulate on the ground can be a breeding ground for fungal diseases. This is why it is so important to remove the leaves while they are still dry and easy to rake or mow.

Remember not to water at night, especially in the fall. The nights are cold and the water will take much longer to reach the roots in the soil.

June 30, 2014

Cleaning Up After a Storm

Summer is here and while that means ballgames and trips to the beach, it can also mean thunderstorms. Depending on where you live, some of these storms can be severe and cause quite a bit of damage.

Your first inclination will be to check for damage. The second inclination will be to clean the yard of any debris. These are good thoughts, but you want to make sure you clean up correctly.

Remember, these storms can damage trees and shrubs and leave behind a trail of debris. You need to be careful when doing such cleanup work.

Strong storms can bring down tree limbs and power lines. The first thing you want to do is make sure none of those fallen tree limbs are resting on power lines. If this is the case do not, under any circumstances, try to remove them. You must contact your local utility company to have those limbs and branches removed.

Most of the fallen branches will be branches that have already died.  Some limbs may have been ready to come down and were just waiting for a good, stiff wind.

Don’t try and lift any limb that is too big for you to carry. Consider cutting large limbs into smaller pieces, using a hacksaw or a chainsaw for larger limbs. Do not cut the damaged limb in the middle. Instead, choose a cutting location just above a lateral branch.

If large parts of a tree have come down and are in a difficult position, do the wise thing and call a professional. A tree pruning company can help with the removal.

Check your lawn sprinkler system. It’s possible it could have sustained damage in a rough storm. Check all the zones and make sure the sprinkler heads are not damaged. This should be done before you try and use the system after a storm.

June 25, 2014

Solving Those Lawn Problems

We all want a great looking lawn. We also know that a healthy, green lawn takes some work.

Luckily, we live in a time when the hard labor of heavy-duty lawn work has been eased somewhat by the creation of lawn sprinkler systems and timers. Those timers, properly connected to a lawn sprinkler system, can save you money and time.

Yet, there still remain some common lawn problems that can put a damper on your plan for a green, lush lawn.  The good news is, most of these common lawn problems can be overcome:

Common Problem: Lack of Sunlight

Shade is cool, except when you want to cultivate green grass. Then that lack of sunlight becomes an issue. There are shade-tolerant versions of turfgrass. Check out blends like bishop’s hat or sweet woodruff.

Common Problem: Crabgrass

Crabgrass is no friend of the healthy lawn.  It’s a problematic and pesky weed, but it’s not invincible. If you want to be rid of crabgrass but are not crazy about herbal pesticide, why not give something corn gluten meal a chance?  Using it early in the spring can help contain the crabgrass.  Then, it’s time for fertilizer. Couple that with a healthy supply of water to your lawn. When you mow, mow high. If you do decide to use a pesticide, wear gloves, take other safety precautions and carefully read the instructions.

Common Problem: Lawn Mushrooms

These are NOT the kind of mushrooms you eat. Your lawn won’t find them very appetizing either. To permanently rid your lawn of the mushrooms, try to get rid of any decaying organic matter. Grind down stumps, rake up grass clippings and replace old mulch.

Common Problem: Bald Spots

No, not the kind on your head. These kind of bald spots can be unsightly on your lawn. Find the bald patch and dig up the damaged area, plus six inches of the surrounding healthy law. Dig about two inches deep. Leave the soil and add a small amount of soil amendment. Then add some starter fertilizer.

June 18, 2014

Different Types of Sprinkler Timers

Sprinkler timers are a tremendous tool for making sure your lawn is getting the right amount of water.

A great lawn sprinkler system takes much of the guesswork out of wondering when to water your lawn.  Too much water will just cost you money and hurt your lawn. Too little water and you’ll be looking at a lot of brown grass.

The timer on a sprinkler system can act as the brains of the system. A timer sends a message to the valves in the lawn irrigation system. The valves regulate the flow of water to the sprinkler system. The timer will switch the lawn sprinkler system on and off and pre-determined intervals. This will help regulate a specific team for water to go to the lawn. You won’t have to worry about forget to turn on the system or wonder if you forgot to turn the system off. The timer will take of those things. This creates a seamless watering system that will nourish your lawn on a regular basis.

Sprinkler System Store features several Orbit timers for water sprinkler systems. These timers easily connection to irrigation systems. There are timers for systems big and small. The Orbit 12 Station timer has a touch screen and can be duel-programmed. The Orbit Super-6 controller is a timer that comes with a remote control. The remote control allows specific zones to be watered without interrupting the timer’s set program.

These timers are energy-efficient and also help conserve water. There are timers with mounting kits that can be set up indoors or outdoors. In addition to the remote control timers, there are also dial control timers. Touch screen timers, like the dial control timers, are easy to use and are reliable. All the Orbit timers are built to last and are available at affordable prices.

June 10, 2014

Dandelion Debate

For many of us, it’s been something of a foregone conclusion that dandelions are bad for our lawns.

Yet some lawn experts say it’s time to rethink our thinking about those no-good dandelions. Maybe it’s time for a dandelion debate.

So what’s so great about dandelions? Those lawn experts who are pro-dandelion point to the fact that the dandelion is an important part of our ecosystem. They are often an early source of nutrients for honeybees during the early days of spring.

Dandelions are also a great pollinating plant. Again, this goes back to those honeybees. If honeybees go away, the pollinators go away and the food cycle suffers.

Dandelions are also one of the weeds that attract and provide food for butterflies? Everybody likes butterflies, right? When butterflies find food, they are more likely to lay eggs in that area. This could result in more butterflies in your garden.

There is also thought that dandelions are good for lawns because of their roots. Dandelion roots are wide-spreading and help loosen hard-packed soil, aerate the ground and reduce erosion.

Still, if dandelions are not your thing, put some thought into how you are going to get rid of those dandelions.  And think about planting other types of plants or flowers that will attract the bees and the butterflies.

Instead of spraying pesticides to get rid of the dandelions, try an herbicide instead.

Don’t try and “dry out” the weeds. Remember, your lawn needs water to stay healthy, so don’t deviate from your watering schedule or alter the time on your water sprinkler timers.

You can also dig up dandelions by hand, but it can be difficult to remove the entire root of the dandelion. If you decide to go this way, it’s probably a good idea to incorporate a screwdriver or dandelion weeder as part of the root removal process.

June 4, 2014

Keep Your Mower Running Strong

The summer season is fast approaching and you know what needs to be done to keep your lawn green and healthy. A proper watering schedule is essential. That is why a water sprinkler system can be such an asset for a homeowner.

Regular lawn mowing is also a vital part of keeping your lawn looking its best. That’s why it’s so important to make sure your mower will keep running strong throughout the summer.

In early spring, it was about preparing your mower for the season ahead. Now it’s time to remember that lawnmower maintenance will really pay off. Here are some tips to follow throughout the summer and fall:

Keep It Clean
Clean your mower often but don’t use water any more than you have to. Water can lead to corrosion. Instead, use compressed air when possible. If you do use water, make sure to grease and lubricate afterword.

Keep It Fresh
Fresh gasoline is a lawnmower’s friend. It helps maintain an engine’s performance. If you keep gas in a metal can, consider using a clean funnel to transfer gas from the can to the mower. Also try to keep track as to when you bought the gas. Gasoline that’s older than 30 days can be impacted by moisture buildup and octane loss.  These things can lead to gum deposits in the engine’s fuel lines and carburetor, causing poor engine performance.

Check the Spark Plug
This is a must at the beginning of the spring and it’s a good idea to check it again during the summer. The spark plug should be replaced after every 100 hours of operation. Check the owner’s manual to determine the spark plug type and gap.

Keep the Blades Sharp
Blades may start to dull during the season. A sharp blade means a cleaner cut, making for a healthier lawn. Blades can be sharpened with a file or on a grinder wheel. Never attempt to sharpen the blade while it is still on the mower. If you are unsure about properly sharpening a blade, don’t guess. Check with a lawn mower maintenance professional.

May 28, 2014

Preparing Your Lawn for Hot Weather

Technically, it’s still spring.  Yet, now that Memorial Day is behind us, the unofficial start to summer is here. The dog days of summer will not be far behind.

Summer can be a tough time for a lawn.  The best thing you can do is prepare your lawn for the hot summer season ahead.

You should start at the root of the situation. This means checking the soil in your yard. Start with a soil test. Soil quality can change through the years. The results of the soil test can help you determine when to fertilized and plant. Fertilizing in the spring can invigorate your lawn with nutrients that were depleted during the cold winter months. It’s not a good idea to fertilize during the hot summer months.  Fertilizer can harm the growing process during times of intense heat.

It’s also important to know how to water. A lawn sprinkler system with a timer can help take the guess work out of knowing what time to water the lawn.  Watering early in the morning is very important during the summer months. Hot air and a pounding sun can cause water to evaporate too quickly, before it has a chance to be absorbed into the soil. A lawn irrigation system timer should be set to different times depending on the season.

Speaking of soil, the type of soil can also determine the amount of water the lawn receives. A loose, sandy soil will need more water than a soil with more clay. Most lawns will need a deep watering about once a week during the summer months.

Be careful about mowing the lawn too short during the summer season.  Cutting the lawn too short can make the lawn being susceptible to being dried out.

Enjoy summer and take these simple steps to make sure your grass does not suffer from the summertime blues.

May 22, 2014

Protecting Your Lawn from Animals

Having a lawn means being on the lookout for all kinds of grass damage. Animals of all sizes can have a negative impact on a lawn.  This includes dogs. Man’s best friend can be a lawn’s worst enemy if precautions are not taken.

There are steps you can take to prevent lawn damage from animals big and small.

Check your lawn for grubs. These creatures are very appetizing to animals like raccoons and skunks. If you find grubs, bigger, more destructive animals are likely to follow.

Watch out for moles. These animals can be nasty on a lawn. They can create tunnels and dirt mounds that can destroy a lawn.  Here’s how extensive mole damage can be: Moles can damage underground irrigation systems.

Skunks and raccoons are diggers too. They will go looking for food at night and tear up your lawn in the process. They like grubs, so this is another reason to keep grubs out of your yard. One of the best ways to get rid of grubs is by using a grub control treatment application.

It’s important to remember that the best prevention against grubs is a healthy lawn.  A strong, green lawn that is cut regularly and receives a healthy amount of water, will have more nutrients to fight off grubs. No grubs means less chance of animals like skunks, raccoons, moles and squirrels will do damage to your lawn.

There are also ways to minimize the damage dogs can do to a lawn.  Mowing the grass high in areas affected by dog urine can help the lawn recover. You can also flush those affected areas with water as soon as possible.  You can also gate off one area of the lawn and designate this as the dog’s area. This might also be helpful if the dog likes to dig in the lawn.

May 14, 2014

Know How and When to Water Your Lawn

Everyone who has a lawn wants the grass to be green and lush. Proper watering is essential if your lawn is going to be healthy.   

Don’t take watering your lawn for granted. Proper lawn care means knowing how and when to mow your lawn.  This is important if you want to get the most out of your lawn irrigation system.

Summer weather conditions can be brutal on grass. Watering lawns and gardens helps decrease drought stress during dry periods during the summer.

Using your water incorrectly will just cost you money. You’ll end up spending more money on your water bill and your lawn will not benefit.

Using your water sprinkler system on a windy day can be wasteful.  The water will be distributed unevenly and much of it will be lost to evaporation.

Timing matters too. The best time to water your lawn is during the early morning hours, before the sun is at its strongest. The air also tends to be cooler and there is usually less wind.  Watering in the middle of the day means the sun will dry out the lawn too quickly. Water may evaporate before it has a chance to reach the roots. Watering in the evening means the water may sit too long without being absorbed. This can cause problems with fungus.  Ideally the water should soak six inches into the soil. 

The reasons above are just some of the reasons a lawn sprinkler system can make a lot of sense. These systems allow you to use a timer to choose when to water the lawn. The timers turn the system on, and your lawn gets a much-needed drink. Many lawns will only need to be watered twice a week.  This is why a little knowledge can go a long way in ensuring you have a green, healthy lawn.