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!

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Setting up a sprinkler system holding tank

This system requires 30psi of air pressure gets charges into the holding tank before adding water from the well

It’s Time to Fire Up Your Sprinkler System!

SprinklerSystemFlickrmikemol

The days are warming up and it is time to fire up your sprinkler system for the growing season. You need to be careful, though, so you don’t cause damage to your system.

Locate Your Sprinkler Shut Off Valves

At the end of fall every year, you should be winterizing your sprinkler system. This process clears the plumbing of all water and prepares it for freezing temperatures so that they don’t break. Now that spring is here, you are safe to turn it all back on. Find the sprinkler shut off valves and follow the process listed here to properly get your sprinklers back online. One key to this process is to not rush it all or the pipes may burst.

Once they have been started up, you need to put in your initial sprinkler settings. I will go into more detail next week, but it is important that you monitor and adjust your settings throughout the spring and summer since your lawn’s water needs will change over time. You will not need to water much at first in the spring unless it has not been raining much.

When Should You Water?

It is also essential that you set your sprinklers so that they go off between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m, according to the Cornell University Extension Service. If you water during the day, for example, most of the water will simply evaporate due to the heat. If you water at night, the grass will stay wet for longer and encourage diseases to develop. Early morning watering allows the best chances for water to reach the roots.

If you would prefer to have us get your sprinklers going again, don’t hesitate to give us a call!

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Adding Annuals to Your Garden

AnnualsFlickrdaryl_mitchell

 

If you are looking to revitalize your garden, try adding some annuals.  They only last one growing season, so if you decide you don’t like how they look, you can just try different plants next year. You can include plants like tropical species that might otherwise not be able to survive the winter in your area by treating them as annuals.

Color Combinations

These types of plants usually come in brilliant colors that will instantly improve your yard. As Cornell University states, “There is no right or wrong when it comes to color in the garden.  Color choices are a matter of personal taste.” One way to choose plants is to pick annuals with complementary colors to the plants that are already in your garden. You can also try choosing all warm or cool colors.

Design Considerations

Think about your current plants when you are shopping for annuals. Check for the mature height so you do not accidentally plant a taller annual in front of a shorter one. Look at the growing facts like sun and water requirements, spacing and flowering time. Choose plants that bloom at different times throughout the year to help extend the color show.

Suggestions to Get You Started

Not sure which annuals are the best for your landscape? There are some that will fit into almost any garden. Pansies, marigolds and snapdragons are very cheery species that are available in a wide variety of shades. Petunias add beauty and fragrance. Impatiens and coleus work well in your shadier spots.

If you would like help choosing or planting some annuals in your garden this year, call us today for an appointment!

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Spring Color Displays Are Popping Up!

Crocuses are a great addition for a spring color display

Crocuses in the snow

One of the best days of the year is when I see flowers blooming for the first time after a long dreary winter. I love the reminder that the world is coming alive again! Spring color displays are showing up everywhere. The following plants can be used in your garden to provide that effect.

Annuals

One of the easiest ways to add color to your garden each year is to plant annuals like coleus, impatiens and pansies. These species can be started from seed or you can buy plants at your local nursery. They will flower during the growing season and then die off. Next week I will go into more detail about planning and designing with annuals in mind.

Bulbs

If you’re looking for flowers that bloom even when the ground is snowy, try one of the bulbs that bloom early in the year. I am partial to crocuses, personally. You can also plant species like snowdrops and glory-of-the-snow. If you want to add these to your garden, though, you will have to wait until autumn. Bulbs meant to be planted in spring will bloom for you in summer, which can be a good way to keep colors going in your garden.

Forsythia

The cheery yellow blossoms of the forsythia are a sure sign that spring is right around the corner. This is one of the first shrubs to come alive each year. It is generally unremarkable for the rest of the growing season, however.

Fruit Trees

In addition to gorgeous flower shows in the spring, fruit trees will reward you with a bounteous feast later in the year. Make sure you get cultivars that are known to grow in your area. It is especially necessary to choose one that matches the amount of chill hours (how much time they spend at colder temperatures) or you may have blossom and fruiting problems.

Redbud

One of the lovelies little trees around is the redbud. It is so eager to bloom in spring that the pink flowers burst open even before the leaves do. I recommend the ‘Forest Pansy’ cultivar, which has rich purple leaves in contrast to the rosy blossoms.

What is popping up in your garden these days?

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How Do I Control Crabgrass?

ControllingCrabgrassFlickrMattLavin

As part of your lawn care schedule, you may need to take steps to control crabgrass in your yard. It can take several years to manage the problem since seeds can stay dormant for several years before germination, so the best time to start the battle is now.

Begin With Hand Removal

If you only see a few crabgrass plants, you can try to remove each one by hand. Aim to do this before the seed heads form and make the problem worse. Larger crabgrass populations may need a chemical control.

Use a Pre-Emergent Herbicide

One of the best ways to control crabgrass is to use a pre-emergent herbicide twice in the growing season. These compounds are able to kill any seeds that have recently sprouted , so the crabgrass never gets a chance to take hold. This is important because each plant produces thousands of seeds

Begin with a round in spring to catch as many of the seeds as possible. Follow up with another session right before summer to catch any that have started growing since the last treatment.

If you find some persistent plants that have still managed to grow, you can use a post-emergent herbicide that specifically mentions crabgrass on the label. Some herbicides affect all grassy plants, so your lawn grass can be affected as well. You want to especially avoid compounds like glyphosate (Roundup) since they are designed to kill any kind of plant present.

A word of warning: Do NOT use a pre-emergent herbicide at the same time that you plant grass seeds. Since it is tied to germination, your desired lawn will not sprout either. Plan these events to be several months apart so the grass will grow, but you still stop the crabgrass as much as possible.

Keep Your Lawn Happy and Healthy

If your lawn is lush and growing well, it is less likely that crabgrass will be able to compete and become established. Make sure you are doing your yearly maintenance tasks like aeration, fertilization and any reseeding needed.

Image by Matt Lavin under a Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License

What Is Crabgrass?

Crabgrass is a very common weed in gardensPerhaps you have looked at your lawn and noticed that some of the grass looks a bit different. Maybe plants have sprung up in the cracks of your walkway. There’s a good chance that what you’re noticing is a weed called crabgrass.

What Is Crabgrass?

There are over 300 pesky species of crabgrass (Digitaria spp.) found throughout the world. It is so named because it tends to sprawl out sideways from its base. Like many weeds, it is quite persistent since can spread itself in more than one way and may not be easy to control. If you are not diligent about early detection and treatment, it may produce seed heads. These will scatter thousands of seeds throughout your lawn that are able to germinate for several years. Some species also clone themselves by sending out side shoots called tillers.

Crabgrass Is Drought Tolerant

One reason that this weed is able to thrive in lawns is because it can handle summer conditions when it’s hot and dry. This ability to grow even if not much water is present explains how it can survive in strange places like spaces between paver bricks, concrete, rocks and other inhospitable places. Make sure your grass gets enough deep watering to allow it to be healthy and send down roots, making it harder for new crabgrass plants to grow.

How Is It Controlled?

A future post will go into depth about dealing with crabgrass, but in general, control is best achieved through the use of pre-emergent herbicides (which stop the seeds from sprouting), setting your mower blades higher, and keeping your lawn properly fertilized and watered. If the lawn is healthy, it is less likely for the crabgrass to creep in and spread since it cannot compete with your grass.

Have problems with crabgrass? Give us a call!

What Is Your Lawn Care Program?

Lawn care programs include mowing

There are several different tasks that should be included in your lawn care program to keep your grass happy and healthy.

Aeration

Every year at the end of the growing season, get your lawn aerated. This process removes small plugs at intervals throughout the grass. Aeration helps alleviate problems with a built-up thatch layer and improves the health of your grass, since water, air and nutrients have an easier time reaching the roots.

Fertilizing

Another task that you should do in the fall is a round of fertilizer, ideally right after you have performed aeration. This will prompt the roots to grow and anchor themselves farther into the soil. They will also add the nutrients to their storage in preparation for the coming harsh winter. If it are properly fed, grass will have an easier time and will grow better the next year.

Mowing

As we’ve mentioned before, you will need to adjust your mower blades up 25-50% as the temperature rises to protect your grass. Leave at least 2/3 of the blade there. If you cut off too much, the grass has a harder time performing photosynthesis (since there is less area available) in addition to dealing with the stress of hotter conditions.

Pest, Disease and Weed Control

Unfortunately, there are many different pests, diseases and weeds that can pop up in your lawn. Applying pesticides and herbicides at the start of the growing season can help keep them at bay.

Raking

This should be done throughout the season to clean up your lawn areas. If the layers are thick, they can prevent sunlight from reaching the leaf blades. Piles of wet leaves can also make the lawn more prone to diseases like those caused by fungi.

Watering

You will need to adjust your sprinklers throughout the growing season. You do not need to water daily; in fact, this can cause problems for the lawn since the roots will develop near the top and dry out easier. You want to water every few days for a long period to help encourage the roots to dive deeper in the soil. In times of drought, they will then have a better chance of finding water.

You also need to water at the correct time of day. If you water between the hours of 10 am- 6pm, it is quite likely to evaporate in warmer weather and never reach the roots. Watering at night can encourage diseases. Set your sprinklers to go off during early morning.

If you need help with your lawn care program for this coming growing season, give us a call!

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Raking Out Your Lawn

RakingOutGrassFlickrnociveglia

Raking only needs to be done in the fall to remove leaves, right? Actually, you should plan on raking out your lawn at the start of every spring to give your grass the best possible start for the new growing season. This will help combat the effects of thatch and snow mold, which can both be problematic in the yard.

Thatch, Thatch Everywhere

As grass goes through its growing cycle, a layer of living and dead material called thatch forms above the top of the soil. It does not break down readily and can thicken over time. This can be a problem because it stops air, water and nutrients from easily reaching the roots. It can also harbor pests and diseases.

In addition to lawn aeration, the practice of raking out your lawn can cut down on the level of thatch present and allow for optimal grass growth. There is a special dethatching rake available that is designed for this purpose, but you can also use a regular garden rake. Make sure you get the tines down into the thatch as you rake so you can pull it up.

Snow Mold Can Cause Matted Grass

Did you know that there are some fungi out there that thrive in frosty conditions? Pink and gray snow molds can attack your grass even under a snowy layer, especially when there is a thick layer of thatch present. The lawn will begin to have clumps of matted grass that turn brown. Raking your lawn helps get rid of the snow mold spores and allows the grass to start repairing itself. Get rid of the raked grass so the spores do not have a chance to come back.

Give your grass a fresh start every spring by raking out your lawn. It will help you have the best conditions to produce grass that is lush and green.

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Planning for Landscape Improvements

A landscape plan can help you improve your garden successfully

Is your garden ready for an update? When you are planning for landscape improvements, take the time to research your options and carefully consider any new plants or other garden features that you want to add. This can help you optimize costs, pick the best options and avoid problems in the future

Think About Your Needs

Why do you want to make changes to your landscape? How much do you want to spend? Perhaps you now have kids and would like to add a playground. You may want a garden that attracts hummingbirds, or one that provides fruits and vegetables. Write down a list of possible additions for your garden. Look at the costs for different options.

Create a Landscape Plan

Sketch out at least a basic layout of your yard. Note where there are currently plants, concrete, and any other features. If you are adding plants, research some different possibilities to make sure they will grow in your garden. Use the mature size when calculating where you can place them.

Need a Helping Hand?

If you are not sure about the best options for your garden, you may want to call in a professional for assistance. They can help you lay out a plan for your landscape improvements and even install it for you.

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