September 17, 2014

Fall Overseeding

It’s time to think about getting to work on lawn care chores that are best done in the fall. Overseeding should be near the top of that list.

If your lawn needs reseeding, embrace the fact that fall is a great time of year to reseed. September is an ideal month for such a job. It’s still relatively warm, yet the nights will gradually begin to cool down.

If you are going to overseed, make sure you have plenty of grass seed. You’ll also need the following:

·         Herbicide
·         Rake
·         Fertilizer
·         Seed Spreader

Make sure you are choosing a lawn seed designed for a cool season. The milder days and cool nights of autumn are perfect for seed germination. Seed can better retain moisture in such conditions. The heat of the summer is gone, meaning those seedlings can thrive in the cooler conditions.

Overseeding can help give your lawn a “fresher” look. Overseeding can also help promote growth, especially in older lawns.

You can also decide to aerate your lawn before reseeding. Lawn aeration is the process of breaking up the soil in the lawn, allowing water, nutrients and oxygen to penetrate the root zone. This also helps relieve compaction of the soil, caused by heavy use over time.

Once this done, it’s time for the overseeding process to begin. Don’t make overseeding more complicated than it needs to be. This process can boil down to spreading seed over the existing lawn. This is why it’s handy to have the lawn seed spreader. It’s also a good idea to rake the grass before seeding.

Once seeding is down, you can add starter fertilizer. And remember the seeded areas will need water. The seeds need moisture to germinate.

Not all lawns require overseeding in the fall, but it’s fair to say overseeding can benefit most cool climate grasses.

September 9, 2014

A Watering Refresher Course

A new season (fall in this case) means new lawn tasks that need to be completed in order to maintain a green and healthy lawn. In the fall that means things like raking and mulching leaves.

It also means proper watering. The temperatures may start to drop but your lawn will still need a healthy amount of water.

Water requirements of a lawn can vary based on the lawn itself and other things such as the type of grass, soil structure and climate. Basic turf generally needs about one inch of water a week. Some warm season grasses will be able to thrive with less than an inch of water.

We know that rain is the main supplier of water but the nourishment of the lawn can be aided by a lawn sprinkler system. It’s been a dry year for some areas of the country and that has seen a number of municipalities impose water restrictions. Lawn sprinkler systems do a great job of cutting done on water waste, especially if those sprinkler systems are equipped with a timer. Those timers allow a homeowner to designate the time when the lawn is watered and for how long. This takes a lot of the guesswork out of deciding when to water the yard.

The best time to water your lawn is early in the morning. On a hot day, some water from a sprinkler can evaporate before it hits the ground. The sun tends to be less strong early in the morning.

Proper watering at set times will help the grass develop a strong root system. Too little or too much water can have a negative impact on this root system. Nobody wants to negatively impact their root system.

Remember that overwatering is wasting water. This means a higher water bill and a less-healthy lawn. Overwatering grass can contribute to the development of fungus and disease.

September 4, 2014

Hiding Your Sprinkler System

We all know about the big advantages of having a lawn sprinkler system in your yard. It’s a great way to make sure your lawn and garden get the proper amount of water at the best times. And it’s so convenient, especially when a timer is connected to the lawn sprinkler system. The sprinkler system just removes so much of the hassle that can be associated with watering the lawn.

Yet some folks may decide to try and hide the sprinkler system and the sprinkler heads from plain view. There are ways to accomplish this but it’s important to go about it the right way.

One way to cover the sprinkler heads is by using artificial rock covers. Place an artificial rock cover over each sprinkler head in your yard. Most artificial rock covers are made of plastic and have an exterior that is designed to look like real stone. However, they have hollow interiors, which allow for easy placement and removal. This is convenient and important since the artificial rock covers need to be removed before you turn on the water sprinkler system.

If you want a more natural camouflage for an older sprinkler system that is no longer functioning, you can plant bushes around them. Remember, this is only an option for a sprinkler system that is now longer in use. Position the bushes so that the sprinkler heads are completely concealed.

A lawn sprinkler system with retractable heads will also be a little more discreet. When the sprinkler system is not in use, the sprinkler heads retreat into the ground, under a cover.

You can also place potted plants over the sprinkler system. Then remove the potted plants from each sprinkler head when it comes time to use the sprinkler system.

Make sure you have a clear understanding of what kind of heads your sprinkler system has before trying to hide the sprinkler heads.

August 25, 2014

Don't Dig Up the Sprinkler System

If you are planning on doing some landscaping, either this fall or next spring, there is plenty to think about.

Here’s one good tip: Avoid digging up the lawn sprinkler system.

This might sound silly on the surface, but it happens. And when it does, it can be expensive to fix. The key is, be smart and know where things are around your yard.

Before any work begins, go over any plans or drawings given to you by the company that installed your lawn sprinkler system. The plans may located on or near the controller box in your house or garage. If you cannot find any drawings, reach out to your installation provider before any work is done in or around the yard.

Get some graph paper and make a sketch of your yard. The graph paper will help with the measurements. Graphic paper has small squares, each of which will indicate one square foot.

Find the backflow device. This is a device that looks like a pipe with a handle similar to that of a water faucet. Include this and other landmarks on your sketch.

Find where a line should be at the edge of the map that crosses the area where will be taking place. Mark this area with a flag.

Turn on your sprinklers and look for any possible leaks, no matter how small. Also look and see where the water is coming out of the sprinkler heads. Measure the distance from an existing landmark to each sprinkler head and draw the heads on your sketch in the corresponding locations. This should give you an accurate idea of where the water lines are located.

If you are doing the digging yourself, wet down the areas of digging with a garden hose. This will make the digging in the area a little easier.

Oh, important reminder, if you smell gas during digging, call 911. Right away.

August 18, 2014

Fall is Planting Time

Summer is the time to enjoy fun in the sun. Fall is the time for planting.

Why fall? Many of you might think spring is the best time to plant. That’s not entirely untrue. There are plenty of things you can plant in the spring but fall is a great time to plant things like shrubs, bulbs and trees. We’re talking about things like turfgrass, perennials and cool-season vegetables.

There are many benefits to planting in the fall. The cooler air is easier on plants. It’s also easier to work in your garden in the fall, when those dog days of summer are just a memory. Yet, while the air might be a bit cooler, the soil should still be warm. This means roots will still be able to grow until the ground freezes. In spring, you have to wait for everything to thaw before you can really begin to plant in earnest.

Another positive reason to plant in the fall is rain. Many areas typically see a healthy amount of rainfall in autumn. Combine this with a regular watering program and your lawn and garden should get plenty of water.

So why plant trees and shrubs in the fall? Trees and shrubs will have the autumn months to develop root systems. This will help accelerate their growth in the spring. If the trees and shrubs are planted in the fall, they can use the winter season to rest and recover.

It’s a good idea to conduct a soil test on your lawn in the fall. This will help determine what, if any, amendments your soil needs before winter. It’s also a good idea to apply fertilizer in the late fall. This autumn feeding will help protect your lawn during the harsh winter months. You can also overseed areas of the lawn during late fall. This will help with the spring growing process.

August 12, 2014

A Sprinkler Audit

August is here and lawns will be feeling the summer heat for at least one more month.

Now is as good a time as any to perform your own irrigation audit on your lawn sprinkler system.

One good place to start is by determining how much water your lawn and plants are receiving. A good rule of thumb is one to one-and-a-half inches of water per week. Your lawn sprinkler system can certainly help you achieve this goal, especially if it is equipped with a timer. Yon can check those water levels by inserting a screwdriver or wooden paint stick into the ground and check for moisture. Another way to check water absorption is by placing plastic cups in various watering spots on your lawn an in your garden. Turn the lawn sprinkler system on and let it run for the normal amount of time if possible.  After the watering session is done, check the cups and see if the amount of water from the various cups is roughly the same. Record the water amount for each section of lawn.

Check your lawn sprinkler system timer. If you have a sloped lawn, consider using a lawn timer that can have different start times for different zones. A sloped lawn means water from one zone may slide down to another section of the lawn. Staggered start times can help alleviate this situation.

You also want make sure your lawn sprinkler systems is working across all zones. You want to check nozzles and sprinkler heads.

You can also opt for a professional irrigation audit of your lawn sprinkler system. A professional irrigation audit will typically consist of collecting data from the irrigation system and measuring things like precipitation rate and other metrics. This is done to make sure you are getting the most out of your lawn sprinkler system.

August 6, 2014

No Brown Lawn Fines

Used to be if you lived in California and let your lawn dry out and get brown, you could have been looking at a fine.

That’s no longer the case.

California governor Jerry Brown is now ok with brown…lawns that is. California has been dealing with dreadful drought conditions for months and the governor recently signed a bill that allows residents to let those lawns go brown.

The desperate drought conditions have called for desperate measures. Back in January, Governor Brown called for a 20% statewide reduction in water usage. That meant a lot of lawn sprinkler systems were going to be shut off. Unfortunately for the Golden State, we are now in August and not much has changed. One local TV station reports that a survey conducted last month shows the state has failed to make good on the goal of a 20% reduction.  And we are in the heart of summer, when grass is certainly more susceptible to drying out if the sprinklers are turned off.

The bill signed by the governor is now in effect. It prohibits cities, counties and homeowner associations from delivering fines for failure to water lawns.

These are obviously tough times in California. Lawns will obviously suffer, sacrificed for the greater good in a state desperately trying to conserve water.

If you are fortunate enough to have no restrictions on your water usage, this still serves as a reminder of the importance of water conservation. This is another reason a lawn sprinkler system can be so effective for your lawn and for your bottom line.

The timer and sprinkler system allow you to set the time your lawn gets water and for how long. Remember, over-watering your lawn is not healthy for your lawn. It can lead to breeding grounds for lawn disease. Plus, over-watering means you are wasting water. This means a higher water bill.

Smart watering pays off your you and your lawn.

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.