Posts Tagged With: fall landscaping

[Part 3] Planning for a Green Spring: Feed Your Lawn

Feed Your Lawn in FallDo you know the condition of your grass? Looking out over the yard at all your hard work, it is easy to miss what’s right under your nose (or should we say feet). The long hot summer was likely brutal on your lawn. A good feeding of fertilizer will give you a head start on greener, healthier grass come spring.

Examine Grass & Soil

Before you apply fertilizer to your lawn, it is always good to take a closer look at your grass and soil. (By closer we really mean dig out a small section of your grass and look at the root system.) How deep are the roots? Is there a layer of dead organic matter (thatch) thicker than a half inch below the surface? Is the soil hard and compacted? All of these conditions can be solved by following a simple fall lawn checklist to improve your grass.

  • Keep Mowing – Your grass is still growing and storing nutrients, so don’t put the lawn mower away yet. Adjust the height on the mower to cut the grass shorter. This allows more sun to reach the crown of the grass. Be careful not to trim off more than a third of the blade, which could expose the roots to disease and pests.
  • Keep Watering – Grass is gathering nutrients and moisture to channel into root growth. Cutting back on watering now will cause the roots to remain shallow. A good deep watering of an inch every few days will work.
  • Aerate – Aerating machines extract plugs of soil from you lawn, allowing water and organic material to get to where it is needed. It will improve compacted soil and bring beneficial microbes to the surface. They love to munch on thatch! Our article on aerating has more helpful tips to get you started.
  • Dethatching – If aerating doesn’t completely eliminate the thatch, then rent a dethatching machine, which will pull it up from the soil. Rake up the thatch debris and deposit it into your compost pile. For more information, check out our article on dethatching.
  • Fertilize – After aerating, spread a layer of compost and fertilizer over your lawn. In the past, many advised applying a fertilizer high in phosphorous. Today that practice is discouraged and fertilizer companies are working to eliminate chemical phosphates due to the harmful effects on our environment. Opt for organic phosphorous sources like fish or cattle bone meal, animal manure or bat guano to help give your grass strong roots.

Test the Soil

Many lawn problems begin with the condition of the soil. Have your soil (the soil sample you dug up from your grass) professionally tested for PH levels. A healthy lawn will have a PH level between 6.0-7.0. Weeds thrive in acidic soil. A thin layer of lime applied to your lawn should take care of them.

Good Top Soil – Good Gardening

Go back to where you dug up your soil sample. Can you see how deep the good top soil is?

A 4-inch layer of top soil will give you a good lawn, while an 8-inch layer of top soil will provide you with a great lawn. Good gardening begins with good top soil. Compost and other organic matter worked into your grass with a rake will improve the dirt beneath.

Organic vs Synthetic Fertilizers

Know the difference between organic and synthetic fertilizers. Organic fertilizers are less concentrated, but remain in the soil longer. They release nutrients over time. Synthetic fertilizers are more concentrated and get into the plant faster. They are water-soluble and have a tendency to leach out of the soil quickly. While synthetics get the job done fast, they can burn the plant and get into the groundwater.

Fertilizer Boost for Health

Help your grass store up the moisture and nutrients it needs to make it through winter. Giving it a boost with fertilizer now will help establish a strong root system and crowd out those pesky weeds. Investing a little time now will pay off big come spring next year. 

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your lawn and landscape projects. From aerators and dethatchers to rakes, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

Categories: Choosing Equipment, DIY Projects, Fall Checklist, Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

[Part 2] Planning for a Green Spring: Leaf Management

Planning for a Green Spring - Leaf ManagementAutumn brings to mind crisp clear evenings, warm apple cider, beautifully colored trees … and raking all those leaves, the quintessential fall to-do. We’ve got some creative solutions for your leaf management that will help green up your landscape for the spring.

“Leaf” Them Alone?

Closing your eyes and wishing the wind will blow them away will not work. If left on your grass, leaves will literally smother your turf. Diseases will take root. Realize that dead leaves are actually manna from heaven for your lawn. Eighty to ninety percent of a plant’s nutrients are stored in the leaves. When they decay, the nutrients return to the soil. Ah, that got you thinking! 

Landfill Lament

Every year, more and more, yard waste ends up in American landfills, and that includes leaf matter. The fortunate fact is, this can be alleviated with leaf management. Its goal is to repurpose leaves in a way that benefit your lawn, flower beds or vegetable garden. Learn The Secret to Easily Attaining a Healthy, Leafless Lawn in our recent article.

Ways to Manage Leaves

  • Blow them – If you are totally allergic to raking leaves, then try blowing them into your flower beds and around trees. You can also blow them onto a tarp to make them easier to bag or even better – add to your compost pile.
  • Vacuum them – Consider renting a vacuum machine with a shredding feature. You can use a bag attachment and easily distribute the shredded leaves around your yard. Vacuum machines are fairly quiet, too.
  • Mow them – Instead of bagging leaves and putting them to the curb, mow over them with a mulching mower. The mulched leaves can be left on your lawn to absorb back into the soil. You should see roughly 50% of the grass through the mulched pieces of leaves.
  • Mulch them – Add a bag attachment to your mulching mower and presto, you have mulch that you can spread throughout your landscape. Apply a 3-6” layer around trees and shrubs and a 2-3” layer in annual and perennial beds.
  • Compost them – You can also add your leaves to your compost bin. Mulched leaves will decompose faster than whole leaves.
  • Till them – Blow all your leaves into your vegetable garden area and then till the leaves into your soil. For heavy clay soils, till a 6-8” layer of leaves into the dirt to improve aeration and drainage.
  • Eat them – Not you, but a rent-a-goat. Yes, there is such a thing. A goat herder will bring their herd to your yard and turn those little eating machines loose. Soon, no leaves. You won’t wake the neighbors up with these guys. Win-win.

Time That Saves Money

Why go and buy bags of compost when you have plenty falling from your trees every fall day? It only takes a little creative leaf management to recycle them into usable nutrients for your lawn and gardens. Think of how green and healthy your lawn and plants will be thanks to all your fall leaves. Now go ask your neighbor for his bagged leaves. We have mulch to make!

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your fall clean-up and winter preparation projects. From blowers and leaf vacuums to mulching mowers and tillers, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

Categories: DIY Projects, Fall Checklist, Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Part 1] Planning for a Green Spring: Let Your Grass Breathe

Planning for a Green Spring - Let Your Lawn Breathe

Your grass is stressed out! When you’re a little frazzled and stressed out, the phrase “just breathe” comes to mind. A calming, deep breath does wonders for making things feel so much better. That same principle can work for your tender grass. After a long, hot summer and plenty of foot traffic, it needs a good dose of oxygen to prepare it for next spring. Aeration is just the solution.

Aerating literally breathes life back into your lawn, which soothes it in so many ways:

  • Delivers oxygen to the roots and soil
  • Breaks up compacted soil
  • Allows water and fertilizer to penetrate soil
  • Helps to break up thatch
  • Helps to prevent pests by encouraging good root growth

Does your lawn need aeration?

Not all lawns need aeration especially if you have seeded or re-sod in the last year. Do a visual inspection of your grass and look for brown, thinning patches. You can also dig up a square sample of grass. If the roots are less than two inches deep then you need to aerate. The more matted the root system the better your lawn can fight off weeds and pests.

Where to start?

First, get a soil sample done on your lawn. It’s inexpensive and will tell you some of the underlying problems troubling your soil. Next rent a good, core plugging aerator. These aerators work better because they extract the soil plugs from your lawn, leaving behind a small hole.

Prepare your lawn first

Before you begin the aerating process, deeply water your grass one or two days prior. Apply at least one inch of water, which will help the aerator penetrate the soil deeply. The core plugs will also pull up easier.

When do I need to aerate?

The time for aerating really depends on the type of grass you have. For cool season grasses like fescue, bluegrass and rye, August through October is when you should aerate. Warm season grasses like Bermuda, Zoysia and St. Augustine should be done April through June. Depending on the type of grass you are growing, you may want to consider slice seeding your lawn to help the existing grass become denser. You can learn more by reading our article about slice seeding.

Aerating is easy

A residential aerator is as easy to use as your lawn mower. You simply push it over your grass and the cores are extracted. Be sure to run the aerator in two different directions to guarantee that you’ve covered the lawn sufficiently.

Be sure to supplement the soil

After you have finished aerating, you can leave the core plugs on your grass to decompose, or you can rake them up and add them to your compost pile. Spread compost over your grass and fill in the holes made by the aerator. Our article on aerating and fertilizing your lawn will teach you more.

Breathe a little life into your lawn

Aeration is an easy way to help your grass improve its overall health. Giving the root system a good old shot of O2 will set you on the course for a greener lawn come spring. Next time you take a deep cleansing breath, remember your grass. After the long hot summer we’ve had, everyone deserves to relax and breathe a little easier.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your yard and garden projects. From aerators and slice seeders to grass seed, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

Categories: DIY Projects, Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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