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Monday, April 20, 2015

April is National Lawn Care Month!

April is a month of firsts for many lawns – first spring flowers popping up in and around the lawn, first fertilization, and the first mowing. That makes it a good time to review some important lawn care tips, courtesy of the National Association of Landscape Professionals, who remind us that April is National Lawn Care Month.

Watch the Water

If you have to water your lawn this year, make water count. It’s a valuable resource. Water in the early morning or later in the evening to let the moisture soak into the soil, avoiding evaporation. Consider using irrigation systems that minimize water usage. Deep watering every few days, rather than everyday watering, best nurtures turfgrass roots.

Apply the Right Rates, Types of Fertilizer

Know what your soil needs; conduct a soil test to see if any nutrients are lacking in your lawn. Then apply slow-release fertilizers that feed appropriate amounts of nutrients over time to the grass. Some homeowners even spread a thin layer of finished compost onto the lawn in the spring for an organic nutrient boost. Remember to keep nutrient sources away from storm drains and other places where water flows freely.

A Perfect Lawn May Not Look It

Photo credit: waferboard / Foter / CC BY
A lush, deep green lawn through the whole season may not be best. The National Landscape Professional Association urges its members and homeowners to “Embrace the Brown” during periods of lower rainfall and higher heat in summer. Most turfgrasses will enter a natural dormancy stage, where the grass crown “shuts off” sending up new blades and older blades brown.

Many turfgrasses, especially cool-season grasses, will shoot up green blades with rain and cooler temperatures. Irrigating can keep the grass from going into dormancy – but not irrigating during a couple brown weeks can save water, and the grass probably won’t miss a beat.

Fall Seeding is Best

Spring seeding may be unavoidable, such as repairing large areas of damage from a winter construction project. But if winter damage is not widespread, wait until later to seed. The turf may bounce back. Another benefit: less aggressive weed growth in the fall, when crabgrass is at the end of its lifecycle.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

4 Animals That Can Destroy Your Yard: An Infographic

View the infographic below to learn about some of the most unsuspecting animals that can actually destroy your yard, as well as tips on keeping them away.

(Click to Enlarge)

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Monday, March 30, 2015

Get Ready for Spring … It’s Coming … We Promise!

Photo credit: mjhccl / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Homeowners the country over can’t wait for spring. The winter seemed longer and harder than usual in much of the North, and much of the Southeast welcomed spring with cold, wet conditions. At the opposite extreme, drought still persists in much of the West. No matter where you live, keep these time-tested tips in mind as you ready your lawn and landscape for spring.

Be Patient with Soil…

The first sunny day of spring unleashes the urge in many of us to get digging. But tilling up soil still wet can adversely impact soil structure – and leave clods that can last for months. One easy test: if a clump of soil breaks apart while you bounce it up and down in your hand, the soil is likely ready to till.

But rather than tilling as soon as possible, here’s a better idea: it’s still not too late to pull a soil sample for testing. Then stock up on soil amendments, like lime and sulfur, which you’ll need in your lawn or garden.

…and Be Patient with Sod

Photo credit: slgckgc / Foter / CC BY
Be patient with your lawn, too. Spots that look winter-killed might surprise you by bouncing back this spring. Bare spots bigger than 4-inches square will likely need repair; but cool-season turf is best established from seed in the fall.

In most regions, lawns may be renovated with sod in the spring; still, waiting until the fall can usually save some watering for sod establishment, too. Here’s something you can do this spring: incorporate generous amounts of organic matter, like compost, into your lawn’s trouble spots. If you’re willing to live with some brownish-black spots this summer, you’ll reap the reward of far better soil fertility for fall seeding.

Get Composting

In most areas, temperatures are almost back to where the microbes that break down compost piles start waking up and doing their thing. Turn (aerate) your compost after the winter weighed it down. Feed it with carbon sources - leaves and other “brown” yard waste that you have picked up with your Cyclone Rake. Follow that with nitrogen-rich “greens” that will come with early mowing and weeding.

A compost pile “remodel” – if your pile could use some new walls or other sprucing up – is a great early spring project. Try two or three 3-foot by 3-foot bins, moving compost to the next bin to aerate it as it decomposes.

Tree and Shrub Checkup

Photo credit: j-ster / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA
Winter dormancy, the ideal time for pruning many trees, is passing quickly as trees wake up from winter. But most spring-flowering shrubs are best pruned after flowering. Patience is also a pruning virtue; wait until the blooms are gone.

Trees and shrubs may be thirsty, especially in areas where snowfall was less than average. Consider early spring watering, especially for flowering trees and perennials.

Some emergency care may be required for trees and plants damaged by spring storms; a clean cut for splintered branches helps keep possible disease problems at bay. If a tree must be removed, try to avoid excessive foot traffic and heavy equipment that can compact damp soils.

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