6 lawn care tips for a healthy yard

The health of your lawn is important, and without a healthy lawn it’s hard to make a good first impression. To ensure that everyone sees the lawn you’ve always dreamed of having, you just need to follow some easy lawn care tips. Aeration, fertilization, re-seeding, regular mowing, irrigation, and pest removal are all extremely important parts of a healthy lawn.

  1. Aerate

Aeration is the process of removing plugs from the soil in your lawn to encourage healthy air flow. There are a lot of different tools available for aeration, from sophisticated machinery to a pair of shoes with spiked soles. Aeration is a very important process for your lawn, but only if done correctly. Soil should be aerated while damp, but not while soaking wet. When you’re ready to aerate your lawn, water it the day before instead of the day of.

Aeration gives roots and soil the chance to breathe, in addition to breaking up thatch and enabling water to reach the root system with more ease. While aerating be careful not to puncture your sprinkler system.

  1. Fertilize

Fertilization is a very important process for your lawn. As with aeration, you should irrigate your lawn beforehand. Fertilization can be a very powerful tool for your lawn, but it can be dangerous if done incorrectly. Fertilization should never be performed without first conducting a pH test.

pH tests indicate the alkalinity or acidicness of your lawn’s soil. If you fertilize your lawn when a pH test indicates that you should not, you can end up causing much more harm than good.

  1. Reseed

If your lawn is looking brown or dry it may be time to re-seed. Reseeding is necessary in every lawn at some point or another, and it can be a great way to thicken and brighten up the existing grass in your yard. Many homeowners even select a different type of grass seed to use during this process so that their lawn can be more resilient to seasonal conditions.

To reseed your lawn, begin by mowing the grass at a slightly lower length than you would normally choose. Then apply a thin layer of topsoil in order to remove thatching in your existing grass as well as to give your new seeds something to sink into. Then spread your seeds either by hand or using a commercially available spreading tool.

  1. Mow regularly

Mowing your lawn is much more than an aesthetic decision. The frequency and length at which you mow your lawn are two of the most important lawn care decisions you will have to make. Thankfully these decisions can become much easier by following the advice of professionals. Most grass seeds will include the ideal height and mowing frequency that are recommended by the manufacturer. Take some time to research regional recommendations, and compare them to the manufacturer’s suggestions.

  1. Irrigate

Regular irrigation is essential for the health of your lawn. If you live in an area with frequent rainfall you may not have to worry about manual irrigation, but you should track weekly rainfall so that you’ll know when supplemental watering is required.

When irrigation is in your hands it’s important that you follow a regular schedule. The best time to water your lawn is right before the sun rises, allowing your lawn the most time possible to dry. Overwatering or not allowing for enough time to dry before sunset can result in many negative effects in your lawn.

  1. Remove pests

No lawn can properly thrive if it’s being plagued by infestation. There are many types of pests that could invade your lawn, and once they’ve found their way in they can cause a lot of problems. Tree death and brown, dry grass are just two of the common side effects of lawn pests. Having a trusted pest control provider on your side is the best way to ensure that pests don’t become a problem in your lawn.

When to aerate? Lawn tips for year-round healthy grass

A healthy lawn is within your reach, but if it’s starting to feel like an impossible goal you may need to change your approach. Aeration is an important step toward a healthy lawn, and it could be the missing link to the green grass of your dreams.

The process of aeration involves removing plugs of soil from your lawn, increasing airflow and improving drainage patterns. There are many types of tools that can be used to to achieve this technique in your yard. Read on to learn about keeping your grass looking healthier than ever with a few simple steps.

Why aerate?

There are many benefits to aerating your lawn. This practice stimulates growth, increases turf durability, reduces thatch, and encourages deeper root growth. Sometimes plug removal is all it takes to turn your lawn around, and this easy process can be as valuable as months worth of lawn treatments.

When should you aerate?

The ideal time to aerate your lawn is during the growing season. This way new grass can fill the open holes that appear during plug removal. If using cool season seed, early spring and fall are the ideal times of year for aeration. Warm season seed responds best to late spring aeration.

Aerating your lawn doesn’t have to be hard, but under the wrong conditions it can be. Hard soil especially presents a problem, so ideally you should begin the process following rainfall or irrigation. If the ground is too moist your project could turn messy and ineffective, so wait 24 hours after rainfall or watering before you start.

What tools are required?

There are a several types of tools that can be used when aerating your lawn. All have their pros and cons–take a look at the following tools to help figure out the best choice for your lawn:

  • Garden Fork – A simple garden fork can be a very useful tool for the simplest type of aeration. This is certainly one of the more cost effective options available, but unlike more sophisticated devices, a fork will simply push plugs down into the ground instead of removing them. Simply drive the fork into the ground, if the ground is too thick, place your foot on the base of the fork and use your body weight to drive it into the ground. This method is also going to take you a very long time if you’re aerating the entire yard!

  • Aeration shoes – These shoes that feature prominent spikes on the bottom make for what is surely the easiest way to aerate your yard. Aeration shoes come in several forms, some of which are full shoes and other that simply attach to the bottom of your normal footwear. Just strap these shoes on and start walking around your lawn: You’ll be aerating as you go. Like a fork, plugs are only pushed down using these shoes, not removed, and since aeration is required when your soil becomes too compacted, walking on it to aerate may sort of defeat the purpose!

  • Hollow tiner – A hollow tiner is like a garden fork that’s designed especially for aeration. Unlike a pitch fork, tiners have hollowed spikes that remove the plugs of soil instead of just displacing them.

  • Spiked aerator –  The quickest way to aerate your lawn requires a professional grade aerator. Usually these devices attach to the back of a tractor or lawn mower, though standalone units are available for rental or sale. As you pull the mower, the spiked barrel will rotate and remove plugs as you go. Aerators range anywhere in price from one to several hundred dollars. Some home improvements stores will rent these devices to homeowners who aren’t ready to commit to buying.

Consider using a scarifier

Aeration may not be required in your lawn, and a good way to test the waters is to use a scarifier in your lawn. Many of the same benefits of aeration are also seen when using this device. Scarifiers remove thatch and leaves from your lawn, leading to better irrigation and water flow patterns in your yard.

If you think your lawn could benefit from aeration but you don’t have the time to devote to it, consider getting in touch with a professional lawn service company. These companies understand all of the subtleties of aeration, and you could save a lot of time spent on trial and error by reaching out to one of these providers. Don’t wait until your lawn has dried up and died–consider lawn aeration today.

Determining the best grass seed for your lawn

There are more than 10,000 types of grass found throughout the world, and they’re all different. The ideal conditions and maintenance patterns vary greatly from one type of seed to another. No matter what your requirements are for the amount of time you have to devote to yard work, you can rest assured that there’s a grass for you.

Understanding different types of grass

In the South one of the most common types of grass seed is Bahia. This grass is tough and is able to withstand high temperatures and heavy foot traffic. Bahia grass exhibits its best growth in coastal areas. A common choice for homeowners who experience weeds in their yard is Bermuda grass. Bermuda grass grows aggressively and can combat weeds that will attempt to spring up. Unfortunately, this type of grass can quickly spread into flowerbeds, so if you have a flower bed in your lawn you may want to consider a different variety of seed, or at least be prepared to spend a lot of time keeping the grass out of your flowers!

Bluegrass is one of the most popular choices throughout the United States. This grass requires moderate to heavy sun exposure, as well as regular watering and healthy soil. Bluegrass is a cool season grass that grows densely. Centipede grass is a great choice for homeowners who do not have a lot of time to devote to lawn maintenance. This grass is tough in texture, but weeds and pests have an especially hard time invading lawns with this type of grass. Centipede grass is most commonly found in the South.

Because of its high heat tolerance and notable winter resistance, Fescue grass is also one of the most popular choices in the country. Fescue grass generally grows best with infrequent irrigation–if over-watered, there are many types of diseases that can cause problems for fescue grass.

These are just a few of the most common types of grass seeds that are planted around the country. Other popular choices include:

  • Bent grass

  • Carpet grass

  • Rye grass

  • St. Augustine grass

  • Zoysiagrass

  • Buffalograss

  • Paspalum grass

These types of seeds vary in price dramatically. Rye grass, for example, can be found for as cheap as a dollar per pound, whereas paspalum grass can be as high as $45 per pound. And while you may think that all seeds are created equal, it’s important to not skimp on price when it comes to grass seed. A high quality grass will yield much better results.

Planting seeds

Many homeowners are intimidated by the effort required in planting grass seed in their yard. It may seem like a lot, but grass planting doesn’t require as much as you may think. Seeds can be planted in your yard in six easy steps:

  1. Till – By breaking up the soil in your lawn, you allow for the seeds to easily access the earth.

  2. FertilizeProper fertilization is one of the most important steps in ensuring a healthy lawn. Follow directions that come with the fertilizer you choose so that you can avoid over- or under-fertilization.

  3. Distribute – Spread the seeds through the lawn. In small yards this can easily be done by hand, but for larger jobs it is recommended that that you use a seed spreader.

  4. Protect – Once your seeds have been distributed cover them with a layer of hay or topsoil. This will protect the seeds from runoff or redistribution.

  5. Irrigate –  Water your seeds very gently during the early stages of growth. If watered properly your seeds will soon germinate and begin to sprout. If overwatered, your seeds may wash away before they have a shot.

  6. Defend – Once your seeds are ready for germination you need to begin defending your lawn. The seeds are fragile and easily disturbed at this stage, so try to keep people and pets off your lawn!

Make a big impression with lawn edging in your yard

Lawn edging is a simple way to make a big impression with your lawn. Edging adds clean lines to your yard which showcase flowers or other ornamentals and make everything appear neat and tidy. This process was once only used by top-level landscapers, but now it can be easily achieved by homeowners who are looking to up the ante with their lawn.

Why choose edging?

An edger isn’t hard to use, and the effect it has on your lawn is certainly worth the work. This tool is a great way to make your lawn appear to have been styled by a professional landscaper. If you’re wondering how to achieve some of the styles of edging you’ve seen, take a trip to the hardware store. There you’ll find an assortment of edging tools and materials, and can take a look at the options available that will help you get a better idea of the cost and time required. Talk with an associate at the store about the most popular choices, as well as the additional tools required for each type of material.

Using an Edger

There are a couple of different types of edgers, and both are easy to use. One is a combination trimmer-edger, with a shaft that usually rotates 180 degrees depending on which function you’re using the device for. The other is a dedicated edger which does not rotate. These devices uses wire, plastic, or even metal teeth to cut grass or other plant matter that is hanging over the edge of your lawn. SImply hold the edger steady–most come with a guard or even a wheel to help hold it steady and guide the edger in a straight light–and slowly walk along the edge of the lawn. Edgers can occasionally kick up stones or sticks, so be sure to wear proper clothing to protect your feet, legs, and eyes while operating one.

Mowing strips

Mowing strips are one of the most practical edging practices. This is a paved strip between the edge of your lawn and the beginning of your flowerbed. Ideally this strip is ground level, this way you can rest one wheel of your mower on this surface. If you choose an elevated surface it can make mowing harder. There are many benefits to mowing strips: they cut down on the chances of plants from your flower bed accidentally getting clipped, and if it’s wide enough it offers a place to kneel while you work on plants. Other benefits of mowing strips include:

  • A reduced chance of grass spreading from your lawn into flower beds

  • Eliminates the need to use a weed trimmer along the edge of your lawn

  • Drastically increases ease and speed when mowing

Plastic edging

For the benefits of edging without a high price tag or labor-intensive installation, consider some of the plastic edging products that are available. These guards are a very easy way to keep mulch inside of your flower bed, and installation is as easy as tapping the frame into the soil with a hammer. You can buy plastic edging that matches the color of mulch in your garden if you’d like to keep mulch from spreading but do not like the way that edging looks.

Plastic edging can also be an affordable way to build the foundation for a lawn makeover. Simply apply plastic edging as directed along your flower bed, then line the front with bricks or decorative rocks. The edging will keep your mulch in place and the stones add some aesthetic appeal. This method is one of the quickest and cheapest ways that you can change the look of your lawn as well as increase practicality.

Professional edging services

If you’re looking for an advanced edging look that you think may be outside of your skillset, consider calling a couple of professional landscapers in your area. Most landscapes will offer a free quote for your lawn, so have them come by and show them the styles and techniques that interest you. The cost will vary from one landscaper to another, so make sure to find out what the cost you’re quoted includes.

Some landscapers design your lawn and then only come back if you call them, while others offer frequent follow-up visits or full irrigation and mowing services. These all-inclusive packages can get expensive, so look for a provider who offers customizable packages. By selecting a package with customizable options you can avoid paying for tasks that you wouldn’t mind doing yourself.

Two steps for a better lawn: Weed and feed

Are you looking to make big changes in your lawn? It may only require two simple steps. There are a lot of practices, like aeration, irrigation, and detaching that are sometimes required in a lawn, but two much more simple steps can make a very big difference. What are they? Weed and feed.

Weeding and feeding your lawn doesn’t take long, and they don’t require a large amount of expensive tools and products. Best of all these practices tend to have quick results, unlike some lawn treatments that take months for results to show.

Remove weeds from your lawn and garden

Unwanted plants that pop up in your lawn may just seem like an annoyance, but they’re actually much more. Weeds can strangle the roots of grass and even small trees. Dandelions, crabgrass, and honeysuckles are all considered invasive plants. There are a few ways that you can get rid of weeds in your lawn, but the method that you use greatly depends on the time of year and the current presence of weeds.

The most effective way to prevent weeds from popping up is to apply pre-emergent weed treatments. These pre-emergent treatments eliminate the chance of these plants popping up, unless the roots have already appeared. If the window for pre-emergent treatments has passed, a post-emergent pesticide or manual weeding will be required.

Post-emergent pesticides can be spread in your lawn once weeds have started springing up. The solution required for this type of lawn treatment can be found at all major home improvement stores, and application is as easy as spreading the solution throughout your lawn, following the directions found on the package.

If you’re avoiding the use of chemicals in your lawn weeds can be manually removed. This can be done by simply pulling the plants out of the ground, holding them firmly at the base in hopes of removing the root along with the exposed part of this plant. This method takes more time than others, and pulling these weeds up will not necessarily prevent more from growing back.

A healthy lawn is a well fed one

Like everything else, grass grows best when it is properly fed. Grass thrives when exposed to the nutrients found in fertilizer and water. There are many types of fertilizer available on the market, and while fertilizing your lawn is easy it isn’t a task that should be performed without prior research and preparation.

Step 1, Check your soil: Before you fertilize your lawn it is essential that test the pH level of the soil. The pH level indicates how alkaline or acidic your soil is, measured on a scale from 1 (most acidic) to 14 (most basic, or alkaline), with 7 being neutral. If the results are skewed toward one side or another you’ve probably already started seeing the effects of this imbalance. Lime and sulfur treatments are the two most common ways of remedying an imbalance in your soil, but if you have recurring problems you may want to consider adding plants that can naturally correct these pH issues. You can also use organic matter to help naturally change the pH level. Applying compost and mulch are two great ways to gradually lower the pH level of your soil.

Step 2, Select a fertilizer: Once you’re sure that the pH level of your soil is balanced you can begin fertilization practices. Fertilizers are available in many forms, including both solid and liquid varieties. Avoid using fertilizers that have a high phosphorus content, these types of products are only required in newly seeded lawns. The best type of fertilizer for you depends on many factors, including geographic conditions and soil types. Speak with a lawn expert in your area about the best fertilizer for the conditions in your area.

Step 3, Time the application: Even if the pH level of your soil indicates that it’s safe to fertilize your lawn it doesn’t mean the time of year is right. In most parts of the United States, fertilization is best in mid- to late-spring, before the rainy summer season begins. In states where the winter is warm enough for grass to survive the winter fertilization should take place in the fall.

Step 4, Spread fertilizer:  There are many methods for spreading fertilizer, but drop spreaders and cyclone spreaders are two of the most effective tools for the job. Simply fill the basin of this device with your fertilizer to begin the process. Then push the spreader in straight lines, alternating directions and slightly overlapping each time. Fertilizer can also be spread by hand, but achieving uniform results is much more time-consuming.

What are the best lawn maintenance practices for my yard?

Your lawn may seem like a mystery, but it doesn’t have to be. By taking the time to research some of the best lawn maintenance practices for your area, you can make informed lawn maintenance decisions that will have stunning results. Setting a lawn care schedule and gathering as much information about your area’s conditions can make a huge difference in the health of your lawn. For a yard that truly showcases your home, take the following lawn care tips:

Set a schedule

There are a lot of regular lawn care practices that should be a part of your maintenance schedule. Mowing, watering, aeration, and fertilization all have their place on the maintenance schedules of homeowners all over the United States. As with most lawn care tips, when you add these to your calendar is highly dependent upon your location and the particular type(s) of grass you have in your lawn.

Gather regional lawncare information

Some areas experience long periods of drought, while others have rainy seasons that barely give your lawn time to dry out. It’s very important that you understand your lawn’s location-specific needs when figuring out a lawn maintenance schedule.

Lawn care experts can be very helpful when determining regional specifics about your yard. Contacting a representative from a lawn care company is the best way to learn about your lawn.

Some questions you may want to consider asking include:

  • What type of soil is most common in your area? The type of soil that’s present in your lawn can make a big difference. There are dozens of soil types found throughout the U.S., some of which are more susceptible to certain diseases and seasonal struggles. Knowing the type of soil as well as the pH balance of your lawn’s turf can make some big differences when making decisions about your lawn care.

  • How frequently should you water your lawn during your area’s wet and or dry seasons? Rainfall frequency and amounts vary greatly from state to state. Some areas of the U.S. receive less than 8 inches of rain each year, while others experience 100 inches or more over the same time period. Knowing the annual rainfall in your area, as well as when throughout the year it is distributed, is essential when deciding how often you should water your lawn.

  • What type of grass is in your lawn, and what is the ideal mowing height? There are many types of grass found in lawns across the nation. Knowing the type of grass that you have is very important, because each type of grass has its own specific care regimen. Knowing which type of grass you have is essential when making a lawn maintenance schedule.

  • What are the most common lawn diseases and pest problems in your area? Knowing the enemy is half of the battle when it comes to fighting pests and diseases. If there are certain pests that have a history of invading lawns in your area during the spring, you can beat them to the punch by applying targeted insecticides in your lawn before the pests ever arrive.

Keep an eye out for warning signs in your lawn

Sticking to a lawn maintenance schedule that’s been built using regional information will give you the best shot at a healthy lawn. Unfortunately, problems can arise in any lawn, but the best way to eliminate problems is to notice them at the very first sign. Keep a close eye out for the type of insects you see around your lawn, as well as browning on plants or grass.

If your lawn seems to be retaining moisture for excessive periods of time, you may need to aerate or set up drainage paths. Failing to do so can lead to rotting roots. Brown or yellow spots in your yard could be a sign of disease or pH imbalance. Keeping an eye out for problems such as these can help with the early prevention that’s required to save your yard from some of the most common lawn problems.

Want a greener lawn? Fertilizer may be key

Every American wants the greenest lawn on the block, but some homeowners just can’t figure out why their grass isn’t as vibrant as the turf in their neighbor’ lawn. If you’ve been searching for a way to make your lawn greener there are many things you can try, but chances are that lawn fertilizer is all you need.

Selecting a lawn fertilizer

Fertilization adds nutrients to your lawn, resulting in a healthier and greener lawn than ever before. There are many types of fertilizer that can be added to your lawn, some of which work better than others. There is a lot to consider when selecting a fertilizer.

The first decision that most homeowners make is whether they’d like to use liquid or solid fertilizer in their lawn. Solid fertilizers are a bit more customizable, and normally offer a ‘slow-release’ treatment for your lawn. Liquid fertilizers work much faster, and your lawn should be noticeably greener in just a few days after application. Unfortunately, these results may fade almost as quickly as they appear. Liquid products are also significantly easier to apply, and many liquid fertilizers feature pesticides that are built in to the formula. This eliminates additional work in the long run, but sometimes it can result in pesticides being spread to unnecessary areas.

Some of the most commonly used types of lawn fertilizer include:

  • Manure – Manure is the most common choice for fertilizer in American homes. Cows, chickens, pigs, and horses are some of the most common sources of the manure that is used in lawns across the country.

  • Blood meal – Blood meal is a very beneficial fertilizer for gardens. This fertilizer serves as a great source of nitrogen for soil, which is essential for crop growth. This fertilizer can even keep deer and other animals away from your lawn.

  • Bone meal – Bone meal is an easy way to add phosphorus to the soil of your lawn or garden. Bone meal is mostly used for when planting ornamentals, especially bulbs and roses.

  • Fish emulsion – Leftover fish products from commercial factories can be a great way to enrich the nitrogen levels of your soil. Just a small amount of this product can go a long way. Many homeowners avoid this product due to the smell, but this fades completely within 24 hours.

  • Organic Fertilizers – When you select an organic fertilizer you’re choosing a product that can be used on any type of plant. Organic fertilizers come in both slow-release and quick-release formulas.

Adding fertilizer to your lawn

There are many ways to apply lawn fertilizer, the easiest of which involve using a commercial spreading tool. Like many tools used in lawn care, this tool can be rented for a small daily cost. Once you have this tool you fill it with fertilizer and then begin the process of spreading it throughout your lawn. Consider the following tips if using a solid fertilizer:

  • Begin by spreading fertilizer along the edges of your lawn.

  • Once the border is done, begin filling in the rest of your lawn. This should be done in a similar fashion to cutting grass, once you reach the end of a row turn the spreader around and complete another row while walking in the opposite direction.

  • Slightly overlap the rows in order to avoid missing spots

Once you’ve finished distributing the fertilizer throughout your yard it is important that you water your lawn. This holds the fertilizer in place and ensures that your soil receives the most possible benefits from the fertilization process.

Liquid fertilizers require a very similar application. Instead of using a spreader, spray the fertilizer in the same way: Starting at the border and then spray in rows of alternating directions. Always follow directions closely when applying liquid fertilizers. If using a product that contains pesticides research the chemicals to ensure that they are safe for all of the plants found in your yard.

The green lawn of your dreams is within your reach, all that’s required is a little bit of time to apply the proper lawn treatments. And ideally, fertilizer should be part of your regular lawn care regimen, not a one-off application. If you don’t have time to fertilize your lawn you may want to consider seeking out the help of a lawn care professional, they will be able to tell you exactly the type of treatment that will be best for your yard and apply it in the proper way.

‘Tis the Season to Aerate

Aeration is more than just a recommendation in outdoor care – it’s a must in creating a healthy, thriving lawn. And when it comes to getting the most green for your green, aerating in the early fall or early spring will yield the strongest results. So time is of the essence! Read on for a simple breakdown of aeration know-how.

What is aeration? Aeration is simply a process of circulating air through the soil in your lawn. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways, determined  based on the type of soil being treated.

How does aeration work? Even in the healthiest of lawns, thick layers of thatch can form an blocking boundary between your prided lawn and the nutrient rich soil underneath. Thatch is a coarse layer of dead and living blades and roots nestled between the top of your lawn and the soil. Although thatch development is a natural part of lawn growth, aerating through thatch is key in optimizing the health and presentation of your grass.

Which method of aeration is right for my lawn? There are two commonly used ways to aerate a lawn: spiked aeration and core aeration.

Spiked aeration involves executing patterned punctures throughout your lawn using a spiked or bladed tool. These tools may be manual or automatic. This method is best for sandy soils.

Core aeration involves removing cores of soil and thatch from your lawn so as to expose compacted and depleted soil to fresh air, clear access to water, and much needed nutrients. This method is more involved, but in most cases yields more substantial results.

How do I decide which lawn aeration service to use? Because aeration can make such a big difference in the appearance and health of your grass, choosing a fitting professional lawn aeration service is important – and a bit daunting. Here are a few things to look for when shopping around:

  1. Lawn care is a science. Look for aeration professionals who have been certified and extensively trained through their agency.
  2. Guarantees, guarantees! One perk of handing it over to the pros is the promise of satisfaction. Seek out a lawn care service that puts its money where its mouth is.
  3. Get the most green for your green. Look for lawn aeration services that come standard with an annual lawn care package.

Summer-Heat Loving Plants

Summer’s here and in many parts of the country that means 90+ degree temps and parched, dry soil. If you spend a little time planning and scouting, however, it’s possible to plant your yard full of luscious flora that will bloom right through the summer’s searing heats.

Whether you live in Georgia, Texas, or even California, these heat-loving plants will ensure your yard looks great through the Fall. Continue reading

8 Tips for Spending Less Time on Your Lawn

Some people live and breathe lawncare…Saturday hits and they’re up and at ’em, riding the lawnmower until their yard is perfect. But other people only maintain their lawn because they have to, not because they want to.

If you’re less “Weekend Warrior” and more “Can’t Be Bothered,” here are a few tips to get you in and out quickly. Less time spent managing your lawn means more time to do what you’d rather be doing! Continue reading