Adjust Your Sprinkler Timing Throughout the Season

SprinklerTimingHomespotHQcom

As I mentioned last week, it is time to fire up your sprinkler system. Once you have done that, you are all set for the season….right? 

Your Lawn’s Needs Will Change

The amount of water that grass needs is definitely not always the same. After all, plants are more likely to experience transpiration (losing water from their leaves) and the soil becomes drier the hotter it gets. You won’t need to water much during the spring, but you will need to start watering a bit more during the summer. If you do not ever adjust your sprinkler timing, the grass may get thirsty and develop problems.

However, you do not ever need to water your lawn daily. This can actually be detrimental since it encourages the roots to form and stay near the surface instead of burrowing their way farther down into the soil. As water becomes scarce, it is harder for the roots to find water and the grass suffers. Instead, plan on watering less frequently but for a longer period. This will train the roots to grow downward and your lawn will be healthier.

How much will you need? Cornell University advises that most lawns will need about an inch of water added per week. Take into account any rain that you receive and adjust your sprinklers to make up the difference. You do need to test how fast your soil can drain so you can choose a rate that doesn’t leave puddles. This is called the infiltration rate and Cornell’s article talks about using coffee cans to measure your rates. You can also call us if you want help in determining the proper number.

Account for Rain and Other Weather

I cringe a little inside when I see sprinklers going during a rainstorm. It is so wasteful and potentially even harmful to the lawn if it receives too much water. When a rainstorm is expected, consider turning off your sprinklers if they are on a timer. You can also buy rain sensors that will stop or delay sprinklers if it starts raining.

Remember – don’t just set them and leave it the same all spring, summer and fall. Changing your sprinkler settings as needed will help keep your lawn healthy. The grass will thank you!

Image Courtesy of Homespot HQ via Flickr

Spring Feeding: Yes or No?

“Do my trees and shrubs really need to be fertilized?” We hear this question time and time again from our customers, and the answer is a resounding “yes!”

Construction activities when homes are built lead to soil that is heavily compacted, poorly aerated and poorly drained – not the best conditions for tree and shrub growth. Consider too that in their natural forest habitat, trees and shrubs have a constant supply of nutrientsimages-75 from decomposing layers of leaves and other organic matter on the forest floor. But in our lawns and landscapes, we regularly rake away leaves and other organic matter before it has a chance to decompose.

What Fertilizer Does

Fertilizer ensures that your trees and shrubs have the essential nutrients they need for healthy growth: nitro- gen, phosphorus and potassium. When they’re fertilized regularly, your trees and shrubs will exhibit deeper color, denser growth and better blooming. Plus, they’ll have an improved ability to fight off insects and disease. Fertilization also helps roots to branch out and grow in size, making it easier for your trees and shrubs to survive drought and other stresses.

What if They’re Not Fertilized?

Without fertilization, your trees and shrubs won’t be able to reach their true potential. And over time, they may begin to show signs of nutrient deficiency, including:

• Poor leaf color

• Reduced leaf size

• Premature fall coloration and leaf drop

• Reduced twig and branch growth

• An overall reduction in tree growth and vigor

By having your trees and shrubs fertilized regularly, you’ll be rewarded with healthier, more beautiful trees and shrubs that you can enjoy for many years to come.

The “Must-do’s” of Fall

       It’s about that time where all those beautiful leaves are resting on your lawn. Should you leave them there? No! It is important that leaves are raked up from your lawn in order to keep it healthy. If you do not, it is possible that mold can grow under those leaves, similar to snow mold. This mold will suffocate and damage your turf. Sure signs of mold are white or grey spots growing throughout your lawn. In addition, thick layers of leaves can also prohibit the growth of your lawn by suffocating it and depriving it of the necessary sunlight needed for growth.

       How else should you prepare your lawn for the current and upcoming weather you ask? Try taking some of these tips:

  • Wondering what to do with those leaves after raking them from your lawn? Consider working them into your garden soil or adding them to your compost pile!
  •  If rainfall is scarce, remember that your lawn will benefit from extra watering this fall. 1″ to 1 1⁄2 ” per week will be very helpful.
  • It’s a good idea to add a layer of mulch to your landscape plantings after the first hard freeze. This will help to keep the soil temperature more consistent through winter for extended root growth.

    Lawn Mold

  • Keep that mower handy! Mowing should continue until your grass has stopped growing for the season.
  • If you have a water garden, you can keep leaves out of it this fall by covering it with netting.

 

Just by following these few steps your lawn will be sure to thank you with another year of green, lush grass!

A Great Start for New Grass

Whether you’ve had your lawn overseeded, or have opted for a more extensive lawn renovation, proper care after planting is critical to giving your grass the best chances for success. Your newly seeded lawn will benefit from the following this fall:

  • Enough water to keep the top inch of soil moist at all times. Light watering once a day is recommended. Once seedlings appear, you’ll need to keep watering, but not as often (once or twice a week should do the trick).
  • Limited foot traffic. Try to avoid walking on newly seeded areas until the new grass has been established.
  • A balanced starter fertilizer should be applied up to six weeks after the seeding.
  • Mowing at a normal height (removing no more than 1/3 of the grass blade at a time) once the new grass is 4” tall.

With a little tender loving care, you’ll be enjoying your beautiful new turf in no time!

“Is Dinner Ready Yet?”

You Can’t Blame your Lawn, Trees and Shrubs for Asking!

It’s hard to overstate how important it is to fertilize your lawn, trees and shrubs, especially during the fall. Most of the plants in your landscape will soon be shifting into dormancy, with top growth slowing down or stopping altogether. Underground, however, they’ll still be very active.

In order to prepare for new growth in the spring, your lawn, trees and shrubs must build new roots and fatten them up with nutrients. You can improve this process by making sure they get a heavy dose of fertilizer in the fall. The stronger and healthier the roots become as a result of proper fall fertilization, the better growth you can expect next year.

Some of the benefits you can expect from fall lawn fertilization include:

  • Grass blades that stay greener and roots that grow later into the season.
  • Better recovery from the stresses of summer heat and drought.
  • Increased ability to hold water, which helps grass plants withstand the drying and browning effects of winter winds.
  • Improves resistance to some cool-weather fungus diseases due to better overall plant health.
  • Thicker green-up in the spring.

By having your trees and shrubs fertilized this fall, you can expect:

  • Improved flowering.
  • Stronger resistance to insects and disease.
  • Better winter color in evergreens.
  • Healthier, denser foliage.
  • An increase in root mass and root branching.

Remember, fall fertilization of your lawn, trees and shrubs will have a direct effect on the performance of your plants throughout next year’s growing season. It’s an essential part of protecting and improving your valuable landscape investment.

Try These Bulbs for a Color Explosion!

Tulips

Thinking about planting bulbs, but not sure what kind you want? Any of these choices will enhance your garden with breathtaking beauty and radiance next season. Mix them up for an unforgettable flower display!

Tulip: Looks great when mixed with annuals or perennials.

Ranunculus: Peony-like blooms are 3” o 5” across.

Ipheion

Daffodil: Great for cut flowers. Deer resistant.

Iris: Comes in purple, blue, mauve brown, orange, yellow and white.

Ipheion: Easy to grow, with small, light-blue blooms.

Anemone: Single or double blooms with contracting center color. 

Ixia: Tall flowers that look best in groups of 25 or more.

Fall is the time to Fertilize!

In Fact, This is the Best Time of Year for It

Since top growth slows down (or stops altogether) in the fall, your lawn, trees and shrubs no longer have to continue the constant flow of nutrients and water to their leaves and blades. Instead, they’re using this time to build up a storehouse of nutrients in preparation for new growth in the spring.

The storage process occurs in the plants’ root systems. A heavy fall feeding makes more nutrients available and helps to trigger the process. The fatter and more extensive roots become from fall fertilization, the better growth you’ll see next year. This is especially true for fall-seeded lawns and newly planted trees and shrubs.

Of course, improved growth isn’t the only benefit you can expect from fall feeding. With an extra dose of nutrients this fall, you can expect:

  • Stronger resistance to insects and diseases.
  • Enhanced winter color in turf and evergreens.
  • Better water-holding ability, which can decrease the drying, browning effects of cold winter winds.
  • Increased blooming in your flowering trees and shrubs.

Heavy fall fertilization is a vital part of any good lawn, tree and shrub care program. By meeting the nutritional needs of your plants this fall, you’ll be rewarded with a healthier, more beautiful landscape that you’ll love coming home to. Stay tune for more tips on how to take care of your lawn this fall!

How to Help Your Lawn Survive the Summer

SUMMER HEAT, DROUGHT AND DISEASE CAN BE DAMAGING

Many lawns are going through a stressful period right now. High temperatures are tough on turf. Combine the heat with long stretches of little or no rainfall, and lawns will start showing signs of heat and drought stress in no time.

If your grass is bluish-green in color, or if our footprints remain in the turf after you’ve walked on it, these are sure signs that your lawn can us some help. In severe case, turf can go into a dormant state causing the entire lawn to turn brown.

WATER PROPERLY TO AVOID STRESS

The best way to prevent heat and drought stress is to give your lawn plenty of water. As a general rule, your turf needs from 1” to 1 ½ “ of water per week from rainfall or sprinkling.

When sprinkling, it’s important to let water soak in to a depth of 6” so that enough moisture reaches the roots. Less frequent, deeper watering is more beneficial than frequent, shallow sprinklings. Also, it’s best to water during the cooler parts of the day when less water will evaporate in the sun’s heat.

WHAT IF YOUR LAWN STILL LOOKS STRESSED?

If you are watering properly and your lawn still looks unhealthy, a summer turf disease may be to blame. Symptoms of turf disease usually involve spots on grass blades that vary in size and color.

Unlike heat and drought stress, which can affect the whole lawn at once, diseases affect only small portions of turf at first. They then work themselves outwards as they spread, creating areas with major damage bordered by areas with minor damage. It’s important to tend to lawn diseases as soon as possible after they’re discovered in order to keep them in check and prevent further damage from occurring.

Summer can be intense, but your lawn doesn’t have to suffer. Proper watering and disease control (if necessary) can make the season much more tolerable for your tired turf!

Grass Clippings Are Too Valuable to Toss Out

It can be tempting to bag and dispose of grass clippings, especially if it’s been a long time since your lawn was last mowed. After all, clumps of cut grass sitting on your lawn are unattractive, and they can smother the grass underneath if they aren’t removed.

Mowing more often, on the other hand, creates a free source of nutrients that can and should be left behind to decompose in your lawn. The trick is to follow the “1/3 Rule,” mowing often enough so that no more than 1/3 of the grass blade is removed with each cutting. It’s also important to mow only when the grass is dry, and to use a sharp mower blade.

The clippings left behind will fall down between the blades left standing, returning valuable nutrients to the soil as they decompose. This practice is known as “grasscycling,” and it can provide your lawn with up to 15% of the nutrients it needs for healthy growth.

Not only is grasscycling a great way to improve your lawn’s fertility, but it helps to reduce the amount of yard waste sent to landfills as well.  Grasscycling is becoming much more common, and that’s a good thing considering that one lawn can generate roughly 300 pounds of clippings per 1,000 square feet each year. Imagine what would happen to our landfills if nobody bothered to grasscycle!

Grasscycling also cuts down on the time it takes to mow, since bagging and disposal of clippings are eliminated. In the long run, this beneficial practice leads to a healthier, greener lawn that requires less fertilizer and effort to maintain.

 

Taking Care of What’s Under Your Lawn

Thatch buildup can be harmful to your lawn!

The thatch layer is a normal part of any lawn. It consists of both living and dead organic materials, including the surface roots, stems and crowns of dead grass plants. Located on top of the soil and underneath your grass plants, thatch can become a problem if too much is allowed to accumulate.

When the thatch layer gets to be more than ½” thick, it can prevent air, water and nutrients from reaching you lawn’s root system. Plus, it can become a home for various types of insects and fungus diseases that can damage and even kill your turf.

Taking Control of Thatch

One of the bet ways to prevent excessive thatch buildup is to have your lawn aerated. During aeration, plugs of soil and thatch are pulled up from your lawn and left behind to dissolve through rainfall or sprinkling. As the plugs dissolve, they help to speed up the natural decomposition of the thatch layer. Aeration also opens up pathways that help air, water and nutrients travel more easily to the roots. Performed annually, aeration will help to keep thatch within acceptable limits while strengthening the root system.

When Aeration Isn’t Enough

If a lawn is very damaged or has an excessively thick layer of thatch, one remedy is to slice seed. With this process, a slice-seeding machine cuts open the thatch, mixes soil with it and plants seed directly into the soil beneath. Another solution is to have the lawn

Slice Seeding

dethatched with a power dethatcher. This equipment uses angled blades to pull thatch up out of the lawn. After dethatching, the loosened thatch must be raked up and removed.

Remember, in moderation, thatch is a normal and healthy part of any growing lawn. Annual core aeration, along with slice seeding or dethatching if necessary, will go a long way towards keeping thatch under control.