Monthly Archives: November 2014

Winter Lawn Care Tips

Winter is usually a time when thinking about your lawn and yard is the furthest thing from your mind.  After-all it’s not like you can mow or plant anything so why not just enjoy a few months of relaxation right? Well, lawn experts adivse that you may want to do a few things to prepare for the winter to ensure that spring will bring a lush and beautiful lawn. Here are some things to consider before you store the mower and hunker down for the winter.

  • The Last Mowing – The last few mowings of the fall you should lower your lawn mower blades.  Short grass protects any new growth that may be more fragile near the end of the growing season. In addition longer grass can be used as nesting areas for mice which will create dead spots come spring.
  • Fertilizing – Late fall or early winter are the best times to fertilize cool season grasses.  Before the first freeze, give your lawn a thorough fertilizing and aerate to replace all of the nutrients that can be lost from the soil during the hot summer months. Once the weather turns cold, the fertilizer will remain in the soil and feed your lawn’s roots all winter long.
  • Keep the Yard Clean – Make sure that you clear the lawn of all objects after you mow it for the last time of the year.  Clumps of grass or leaves can trap moisture and cause moss or mold grow in your yard.  Rake and clean the yard thoroughly before the first snow flies.  Objects like toys, logs, and even lawn furniture left out during the cold winter months can create large dead spots because of the weight of the object.
  • Avoid Traffic on the Lawn – Try to avoid foot traffic on the grass during winter’s dormant period.  While grass is fairly resilient, too much traffic will result in a recovery time in the spring.  Most definitely don’t park a car on the grass.  The sheer weight will kill the grass and soil underneath.

The winter should be a relatively easy time for lawn maintenance if your follow these simple steps.  With a little preplanning in the fall and winter, your spring garden and lawn will be lush and green.

Importance of Irrigation Maintenance

If you have a sprinkler system for your home or workplace, you know what a time and money saver it can be for maintaining a well groomed exterior.  But did you also know that with regular maintenance your system will operate at peak performance and will help the irrigation system components last longer? A regularly maintained irrigation system can minimize water waste, lower operating costs and help keep your yard looking lush and healthy.

While well-maintained landscaping adds to the beauty of your property, there are many reasons to seasonally and monthly examine and maintain a sprinkler or irrigation system.  The primary reasons include: water conservation, safety checks and to assure that the water spray is used in an optimal manner. While examining an irrigation system leaks can be spotted before a water bill becomes exorbitant.  Sprinkler heads that are damaged or that need to be adjusted can be cleaned and fixed before they under or over water an area of your yard.  Routine checks of the sprinkler heads can also catch any safety issues.  Sprinkler heads can be a tripping danger if they are exposed or not completely flush with the lawn.  In addition to the safety and water conservation reasons are the checks to confirm that the direction of the spray is accurate to prevent dry spots or over watering.

 

Now that you know why maintaining your irrigation system is so important let’s look at the frequency at which the maintenance should be done. You should always check with your own manufacturer’s advice or your professional landscape team about maintenance, but irrigation systems should be check routinely.  Here are some rough guidelines:

Check Monthly

  • Adjust timer.
  • Check and adjust sprinkler sprays.
  • Inspect and clean mainline filter
  • if needed.

Seasonal checks

  • Clean all sprinkler heads and filters
  • Manually operate each valve.

As needed

  • Fix leaks
  • Unclog sprinkler heads
  • Adjust heads to ground level.

 

 

Common Gardening Mistakes

Now that the summer is over and the cool, falls days are coming in fast, it is time to look at how happy you were with your gardening this past season.  How did your veggies do? Did your perennials come back as grand as ever? Did your annuals blossom and thickly and as colorful as last year? This time of year is a great time to assess what worked for your garden and what did not.  Real Simple and Better Homes and Gardens reviews yearly some common mistakes that “green thumbs” make.  Let’s take a look to see if you may be committing these garden “no-nos”.

Common Garden Mistakes to avoid!  

  1. Planting in the wrong spot – did your flowers get too much or too little sunlight?  Look at the location in your yard to assess if it is right for the type of plants you have growing there.
  2. Accidentally pulling flowers instead of weeds – The most efficient way to mark your plants is to use the nursery tags your plants come with.  Another option: Label popsicle sticks and insert them into the ground near your varieties.
  3. Over Watering – Over Watering drowns plants roots, causing them to rot; under watering, on the other hand, can dehydrate it. pay close attention to your soil. When the soil is rock hard, it needs watering. When you can grab a handful, squeeze it together, and form a loose ball, it’s just right.
  4. Too many seeds –  Vining plants like pumpkins, cantaloupes, and watermelons can quickly grow to mammoth proportions.  Be sure to check Google to see how much space you need for the space.
  5. Pesticides – The use of chemical herbicides should be avoided in food-producing gardens.
  6. Planting too close together – While spreading too many seeds in a small area for larger planting like watermelon and pumpkins can be problematic, the same can be true for smaller varieties as well.  It’s important to follow the planting directions on seed packets and seedlings.

 

Lawn Tips for Drought Season

Every area goes through the seasonal and meteorological ups and downs of rainfall.  Droughts, unfortunately, can visit for long stretches and really be a problem for your yard.  This can be especially difficult when cities and towns (who are conserving) put restrictions on outdoor water usage.  Whether the period of abnormally low moisture is long or short, you can prepare for your lawn’s survival. Here are some tips to help your lawn stay healthy:

Prepare in advance of dry season –

If your area has a normal dry or hot season, try to follow the following advice about 30-45 days before the season begins.

  • Reduce thatch and compaction.
  • Reduce or eliminate nitrogen fertilizer and increase potassium fertilizer.
  • Water the lawn late at night or early in the morning.
  • Water infrequently and deeply.
  • Sharpen your mower blade two or three times per season.
  • Mow often so you never remove more than the top third of grass blades.
  • Leave clippings on the lawn.

During a drought follow these ideas to help your lawn remain healthy.

  • Raise the mowing height 25 percent or more.
  • Reduce traffic on the lawn.
  • Increase watering on areas near buildings and other heat-reflecting surfaces as well as high or sloped areas.
  • Restrict watering to the areas that are most important to you.

If the drought is extended you may need to accept that brown patches may need to exist until the weather changes conditions.

 

Tricks for Healthy Lawns with Dogs

We all love “man’s best friend,” but if your four-legged pooch is digging holes, making well-worn raceways on your sod and brown, unsightly urine spots-  then it is time to do something about it!  While a healthy lawn can increase your home’s curb appeal, a dog’s natural behaviors can wreak havoc on your lawn and, in turn, decrease the value of your largest asset.  It would be difficult to stop your dog from urinating on the lawn and running around carefree, but there are some tricks that you can implement that may help save your lawn from Fido and his furry friends.

Urine Problems – A dog’s urine is highly concentrated in nitrogen which in small doses is good for your yard but not in concentrated spots around the lawn.  These concentrated urine streams can cause brown spots all over the yard.  Follow these steps to counteract the problem of dog urine:

  • Choose heavy, hearty grass such as Fescue grass that can handle the urine better.  Fill in with Ryegrass and Kentucky Bluegrass.
  • Water down areas immediately after a dog has urinated.  The water should dilute the nitrogen level and keep brown spots to a minimum.
  • Train your dog to pee in one area of the yard.  Order the pheromone called “pee post” that encourages your dog to urinate in one spot in the yard.  This will make watering down and diluting urine easier.  Or fill this area of the yard with mulch or stones.
  • Hydrate your dog often to dilute the nitrogen in your dog’s urine.
  • Consult a vet about over the counter pills that change the PH of your dogs urine.  Some of these products could lead to bladder stones so be sure your vet agrees.

Bare grass areas – Dogs love to run and run and run!  This can lead to grass death due to a lack of oxygen and nutrients getting to the roots.

  • Create a designated area for running that has hardscape or mulch that will not require so much maintenance on the owner’s part. Dogs quickly adjust to play designated areas.
  • Fence the yard to discourage other dogs from adding to the wear and tear on your grass.
  • Aerate the lawn regularly to get oxygen, water and nutrients down to the roots.

Digging holes – What dog doesn’t love to dig to their hearts content?  Many dogs dig to keep busy or because they are bored.  Keep plenty of play toys around to make sure your dog is kept out of digging trouble.  Use positive reinforcement to encourage your pooch not to dig.