When the spring rains start to fall and grass awakens from its dormancy, it is time to take out your garden tools and check them over. Every year you should do a spring lawn mower tune up to make sure that it is working properly and ready to go.
Check Over and Replace Parts as Needed
Lawn mowers are a lot like cars when it comes to basic maintenance. Disconnect your spark plug for safety and look at the engine. Notice your spark plugs, oil filters and air filters and change them out to keep your mower running well and make it easier to get it started. If there is corrosion present around the spark plugs, clean it off. Check the wheels, string and other parts to see if there is too much wear and tear.
Clean and Sharpen Your Blades
You may have already done this as part of your preparation for the end of the gardening season, but it’s a good idea to look at the blade now. You don’t want to start mowing and damage your grass because the blades are dull. Remove it from the mower and clean off any rust after securing it firmly in a vice or similar device. Use a file to sharpen the edges and make sure it is balanced once you are done. Otherwise, it could cut oddly or cause other problems.
Add Fresh Oil and Gas
As part of this general tune up, do an oil change to make sure that your mower has the best chance of starting up and running smoothly. It is also a good idea to use fresh gasoline as it will degrade over time.
What steps do you take as part of your spring lawn mower tune up?
Image by Charles & Hudson under a Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License
One of the best ways to control weeds, of course, is to never let them get started. A good dose of pre-emergent weed control will keep seeds from germinating and dominating your lawn.
When Should You Apply It?
One of the main weeds that you are trying to avoid is crabgrass. You want to apply just before that starts germinating. If you do it earlier than that, it is quite likely that rains and snows will lessen the concentration or even wash it all away. If you wait until too late, you risk the possibility of crabgrass germination starting robustly and the chemical does not have a chance to affect the seeds, wasting the opportunity.
As Cornell University mentions, crabgrass germination is usually most successful when the ground temperatures are in the range of 59F to 65 F. You want to do your weed control just before this happens for the best results.
What About My Grass Seeds? Will They Be Affected?
This kind of herbicide works because it affects seeds during the germination phase. Grass seeds are not immune to this process and they will fail to sprout if you try to grow them when a pre-emergent has been applied. You should have at least a few months time in between reseeding and pre-emergent weed control. Fall is another good time to try patching up your lawn.
You could seed your lawn a few weeks before your herbicide application in the spring. Cornell also mentions that parts of your landscape with little or no plants will warm up sooner since they have one less layer protecting it. Patch up your lawn first and there should be enough time before the crabgrass starts that you can have a successful grass germination rate.
Why Do a Split Application of Pre-Emergent Weed Control?
If you try to do only one application, you may still have problems with crabgrass and other weeds. Seeds may be blown or carried into the area and germinate after the herbicide has been washed away. When you do a second application a few weeks later, you can catch these stragglers and keep weeds at bay,
Call us today to get your applications set up. We can help keep those pesky weeds away from your beautiful lawn.
Image by anneh632 under a Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License
Spring cleanup season is now in full swing. Your next task is to do a good lawn assessment so that you can see what might need to be done.
Dethatching and Aeration
Over time, lawns tend to build up a layer of living and dead parts on the top of the soil that can make it difficult for water and nutrients to reach the roots. Every spring you should check the thickness of your thatch to see if you need to take steps to remove it.
If you do have too much thatch, one way to help remedy the problem is dethatching through raking. This action can remove some of the built up matter and allow your grass to breathe better. You can use a power rake or vertical mower to complete this process. If you do not own either of these, they can usually be rented at your local home improvement stores or you could have us come through and dethatch.
Another tool that you may want to rent or contract out is core aeration. These machines remove small plugs of grass and soil, opening up the thatch and improving the health of your lawn. You should water the ground before doing this as it is difficult to do when the soil is dry.
Raking Out Fungus
You may also have noticed that there are dead patches in your lawn that has pink or white fungi on it. These could be caused by a type of fungus called snow mold. As the weather warms up, the grass will repair itself and usually green up nicely. You can help accelerate this process by doing a light raking to help the grass dry out and get rid of the snow mold.
What else do you do as part of your spring lawn assessment?
Image by katerha under a Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License
Spring is only officially about two weeks away at this point – huzzah! Now is the time for a good spring garden cleanup to usher in the growing season.
On a day when the snow has melted, look around and pick up any trash that may have blown in during a storm. You can also rake up any leaves that were left over from last fall. Those would likely be a great addition to your compost heap or, if you have enough, in its own pile to create leaf mulch. There are some plants like black walnuts that bear harmful chemicals in their leaves and other parts, and should not be included.
If you have not put down fresh mulch yet this year, now is a good time. It will help protect your plants throughout the year and freshen up your landscape to boot.
Look over your machines and tools to make sure they did not get rusted or otherwise broken during the winter. Sharpen them as necessary, especially if you did not do happen to winterize your equipment.
You can prune many trees, shrubs and perennials at this time. Go over your trees and shrubs to make sure that there are not parts that are dead, damaged or diseased. There are some like maples where they may bleed too much sap if they are pruned too early, so they should be trimmed later in the season.
If you are running short on time or would just prefer that someone else prep your landscape, give us a call. We would be happy to discuss a plan to get your garden into tip top shape for the coming growing season!
What do you do as part of your spring garden cleanup?
Image by Dick Howe Jr under a Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License
Spring is finally just around the corner! I went to my parents’ house today and saw a few variegated bearded iris blades peeping through the soil. It won’t be too long before they fully emerge and proudly display their gorgeous purple blooms.
This is one time of year where it can be a little nerve-wracking in your garden. Some of your bulbs, trees, shrubs and other plants may start putting out leaves and even flowers, but the threat of frosts is not over. If the temperatures fall too much, the plant could be damaged.
Thankfully, many of the spring-flowering bulbs are naturally adapted to lower temperatures. Think about how you sometimes see the earliest-blooming flowers like crocuses peeping up through a blanket of snow. As long as it isn’t prolonged or especially severe, they will usually be fine overall, especially if you mulched as part of your final fall cleanup.
You might have a little more to worry about if they have already put forth their buds or blossoms, since these are more easily damaged. You could add some mulch as part of your spring garden prep. In a pinch, you could make a shelter out of household items like milk jugs (cut off the bottom) or sheets. For the latter, only use them when it’s currently cold and remove during the day if it warms up past the 40s (Fahrenheit). Nurseries and garden centers also sell protective devices like row covers.
I hope that your spring flowers emerge soon if they haven’t yet. They seem so hopeful after a long dreary winter, don’t they?
What kinds of bulbs did you plant? Are they up yet?
Image by Artotem under a Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License
I get more and more excited each week as spring draws closer. One of my favorite days of the year is when I am out and about in winter and suddenly see that the buds on the trees have begun to swell. It’s marvelous to discover that it’s almost time for everything to really start growing again.
One task that should be on your spring cleanup list if you have flower beds is adding mulch. This is especially useful if you have laid wood chips before. They tend to turn gray and otherwise become dull looking over the course of a year due to conditions like rain and snow. Putting a fresh layer down can really make your flower beds more eye-catching in a jiffy.
There are a few different types of mulch available to the home gardener. The ones that are the most aesthetically pleasing include:
- Cacao (cocoa) hulls
- Rocks or pebbles
- Wood chips
Adding one of these to your flower beds does more than just make it look more presentable. It will also help protect the plants from wild fluctuations in temperature, help stop weeds from being so problematic and keep water from evaporating away so easily.
You need to figure out how much mulch to purchase by calculating the area of your flower beds and multiply by how deep you wish the layer to be. You can use this handy calculator from Cornell University if you aren’t feeling mathematically inclined at the moment. You would then see how many cubic feet are in bags of the mulch of your choice and divide by that number to see how many you would need to buy. You can also buy it by the cubic yard if you have a large area to mulch.
Once you have brought the mulch to your yard, spread it evenly over the top of the soil or existing mulch. Do not work it into the soil. Keep it a few inches away from the trunks of any trees and shrubs since having it too close can cause fungal and other problems.
What is your favorite type of mulch?
Image by emily @ go haus go under a Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License
Winter can really take a toll on your lawn sometimes. Your grass and plants are subjected to freezing temperatures and otherwise snowy conditions. Diseases like snow mold creep in. Accidents can happen where you end up with snow plow damage. Once spring hits, you may likely be able to repair the damage from all of these problems, so now is the time to make a task list of what will need to be done.
On a day when the snow has (at least temporarily) melted, take a walk around your lawn. Bring at least a basic sketch of your yard so that you can take notes. A camera can also be helpful. Check for any spots that seem to be problematic and note them on your paper, along with possible causes and the steps needed to fix it.
If you have snow plow damage, you may be able to fix it by adding in soil to make any holes level and reseeding in the spring. If you notice clumps of grass, you may have a problem with snow molds. Part of the treatment for this is a good spring raking and removing the clumps.
Once you have walked over your yard, calculate how much grass seed that you will need to sow. The exact amount will depend on the type of seed that you use (which will likely be helpfully placed on the bag’s label) and the extent of the damage.Order a bit extra to account for seed that fails to germinate and spots that didn’t survive. Another possibility is using pieces of sod if you have several spots in need of repair.
Do you have any other ways that you prepare for spring cleanups?
Image by shaire productions under a Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License
Some of the sentiments expressed by the flowers that are included in this bouquet express gratitude (hydrangeas), love at first sight (lavender roses) and admiration (pink roses).
People have long attributed meanings to flowers based on characteristics like their color. This is known as floriography. During the Victorian era in the 1800s, an intricate language of flowers developed. Secret admirers, for example, could send off a bouquet that would express their ardent desire in a time that was otherwise often prim, proper and reserved. Many flowers have more than one meaning and there can be many different flowers that can express a certain emotion.
You do have to be careful in what flowers you put together under this system. The recipient could get confused if you sent along red roses (romantic love) or lavender roses (love at first sight) when you merely wanted to send someone a friendly non-romantic expression of gladness. If that’s the case, yellow roses are in order.
If you are planning on sending flowers this Valentine’s Day (or any other occasion), why not send a secret message along? Many of the meanings below are taken from our sister company Yedowitz Florists, who would be happy to assist you with your needs.
One of the most popular flowers to give to those that we love in some manner is the rose. If you wish to express romantic love, send the classic red rose. Yellow denotes friendship, gladness and joy in the platonic sense. White is innocence. As mentioned above, lavender expresses that you fell in love at first sight.
Other Common Bouquet Flowers:
- Alstroemeria = Friendship
- Bird of Paradise = Joyfulness
- Carnations = Love, fascination, and distinction, depending on the color used
- Chrysanthemums = Cheerfulness and rest, with the specific colors having their own meanings
- Daffodils = Unrequited love, great regard and respect, and chivalry
- Daisies = Innocence, purity, and gentleness
- Ferns = Sincerity, confidence, and shelter
- Gerbera Daisies = Cheerfulness
- Lilies = Purity of the heart
- Sunflowers = Loyalty, happiness, longevity and many other meanings depending on where the giver lives
- Tulips = Declarations of love
Have you sent a bouquet where you chose the flowers according to their meanings?
Image by muffet under a Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License
If you are one of our regular customers (thank you!), you should be receiving your landscaping contracts in the near future. We like to make sure to dot the i’s and cross the t’s, so call us if you do not receive it within a couple of weeks. That length of time should allow for any problems due to snow and other weather conditions that may slow mail down.
As we mentioned before, it’s always a good idea to have a contract written up and signed by both parties when you have work done on your house. It helps the professional be aware of what you want done and lets them know when they can expect your payment. You can rest easier knowing that your expectations have been laid out. In the unfortunate case of something going wrong, you will have proof of what you wanted to be done and by when.
Make sure that you read over the entire contract carefully before signing. Ask us if you do not understand a part or would like to talk about making changes. It is important that you know what you are agreeing to have done in your landscape and what your part of the deal will be.
Once both parties have signed, keep a copy for your records. You may want to add dates to your calendar so that you can remember when a payment is due and when you can expect services to be performed.
Did you get your contract yet?
Image by 24oranges.nl under a Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License
Instead of staying cooped up inside and forgetting about your garden, take a minute to think about how much winter precipitation you have had so far. If you have wrapped evergreen shrubs in burlap for protection, now is also a good time to go outside on one of the milder days and see how they are doing.
Winter Precipitation Check
One task that you can do now while you wait for your garden to come alive again in the spring is to check your winter precipitation levels. You may want to place a rain gauge or weather station in your garden to help you keep track of how much precipitation you have received. You can also watch the exact amounts accrued through websites like weather.com.
We do not often think about watering our plants during the winter, but it may be necessary if the temperatures have been warmer than usual and there has not been much snow or rain. If it has been a few weeks since you have had either and the temperatures are in the 40s, give them some water. Do not leave it until later in the afternoon in case freezing temperatures set in and cause damage to the wet plants.
Burlap Shrub Inspection
Inspect any of your evergreen shrubs that are wrapped in burlap for protection. If there is snow present, you can gently shake it off because heavy snow accumulation can add pressure to the branches and cause them to break. You don’t want to be too forceful with the removal, though, or that act itself will cause damage.
How much snow or rain have you had so far?
Image by daryl_mitchell under a Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License