A Successful Lawn Care Schedule Goes Year Round
It isn’t difficult to begin to plan for how you will take care of your lawn at the growing season comes along. As the grass begins to become green in the spring and you begin to see things to be done like attend to weeds, the desire to get out there weekends and take care of it is something you and all of your neighbors experience. The truth is, however, that the best way to do a really good job of caring for your lawn is to have a schedule that goes year round and to attend to the needs of your living yard in every season of the year.
Of course as you might expect the winter months are going to be less active where what you are doing for your yard does not call for you to be out there cutting and fertilizing it every weekend. That is why the winter months are good times to get the maintenance done to your lawn mower and to prepare for the more active months in the spring. It is also a good time to inspect the yard to see if there are places where you will be seeding or working to help the grass fill in when the grass comes to life in the spring.
Depending on your climate in the deep winter, your main objective may be just to get ready for spring and to try to minimize the damage from freezing. That means trying to keep from walking or using equipment on a frozen yard to cut down on braking the grass stalks before they can regenerate in the spring. If your climate is milder or if you have those occasional “Indian summers”, it is always good to get a maintenance mow in to clean up the fallen leaves and to open up the yard for further growth in the spring. You can also “aureate” the soil by walking the yard down with spiked shoes on during the late fall or days when the weather is milder. This allows oxygen to get down into the soil which encourages irrigation and growth year round.
Late winter and early spring then is the time to get out ahead of the other things you don’t want in your hard. So starting early with a good pre-emergent weed killer along with some early spring fertilizer gives your hard a head start on coming in full with less interference from weeds. This is also a good time to get out there with the rake to get up any remaining debris from the fall and winter. The raking can also stimulate the soil which encourages growth.
The schedule of yard care is pretty much well understood for the spring and summer months with a continuous routine of mowing, fertilizing and weed control. When fall comes along, then you should think about post emergent to prepare the yard for the winter and to cut down on the viability of weeds taking root in the milder fall weeks. By continuing to have a plan for care and maintenance of your yard month after month, you cut down on the work of lawn care when things get active again next year. And in doing so your lawn stays healthier and more productive year round.
A Successful Lawn Care Schedule Goes Year Round
The Right Lawn Care Supplies Make for a Healthy Lawn
Taking care of a lawn is not extremely complex. The simple tasks of mowing and trimming the yard are so routine that everybody who has property does it or has a service take care of it. Even the next level of taking care of weeds and providing for the other needs for your lawn is entirely achievable by the average home owner with the purchase of affordable supplies that are available at any corner garden or hardware store in season.
Even during the off seasons of fall and winter, you may find yourself laying in supplies of pre-emergent to spread on your lawn and water in. This is a specially developed formula that can go a long way to keep down the amount of weeds and encourage grass growth in the spring. By watering pre-emergent into the soil, the chemicals will retard the ability of weeds from germinating from seeds in the soil. When spring comes then, the weeds cannot even get a start and you have stopped the propagation of weeds from year to year. Pre-emergent that you put out in the early spring also encourages growth in your grass so your lawn gets a good start when springtime begins the cycle of growth.
If you are starting to plan your purchase and storage of chemical supplies for your lawn, you have some decisions to make. You can get some good deals buying in bulk but you will have a storage issues. You really don’t want to leave bags of open fertilizer and weed killer outside to expose to the elements. That can ruin your stock which defeats your purpose. But if you have a secure shed that can hold a dozen or so large bags of various chemicals, you can buy in bulk. Most lawn care chemicals do not have a serious shelf life so a big bag or several big bags can last for years as you use out of them as needed.
The summer brings the need for weed killers and/or fertilizers and what you need to put out may change by the month. You may need broadleaf weed killer one month and crabgrass killer the next. Other chemicals that may be needed to control pests such as insecticides, grub control supplies to discourage moles and ant or termite control chemicals all might need to be stored as you go.
Similarly, the types of fertilizers you put out may change throughout the growing season depending on where your turf is each month. In late winter or early spring, weed and feed works well so you don’t have alternate weed killer and fertilizer. As the growing season takes off, you will want fertilizer that encourages rapid growth and thickening of your yard so new sprouts do well and existing grass turns your yard into a think lush grass carpet. Then as the summer continues, fertilizers that cause the grass to become greener are appropriate.
Learning the cycles of your lawn from late winter through the spring growth through a busy summer and then into the fall and winter months as well is a big part of knowing in advance what supplies you will need. If you can buy and store them as you go, more power to you. But just having a good annual schedule of supplies means you will be stocking up in time for each need and that means your maintenance will be on time and effective throughout the life of your yard.
Lawn Care Lime for the Health of Your Lawn
Lime treatment is a very common method that is used to control the acidic content of the soil of your yard. The increase in acidic content of an average yard’s soil is a natural occurrence that happens whenever you have come out of a period of increased rainfall. But the use of compost for fertilizer or even the use of commercial fertilizers that are high in acid can offset the balance in the soil. So if you suspect that is what is happening to your yard, a lime treatment might be in order.
The first step to find out if you have an acidity problem is to buy a testing kit for your soil. Any fine nursery or garden department of a department store would have a kit for you to take home and get the process started. The instructions are easy to follow and in the end, you will at least know if your soil is high on acids or alkaline. If you detect a higher acid content than the instructions recommend, that is when a lime treatment may be in order. Be sure you know what you are looking for. A little consultation with the master gardener at your garden center can help you learn more about the process.
Before you can plan to treat your soil for lime, you need a more complete evaluation. This is done by sending a sample to a lab for a more in-depth testing. The yellow pages or an internet search will tell you where to find one. The cost is reasonable and you will get a detailed report that will give you all you ever wanted to know and more about the chemistry of the soil of your yard. But the important thing is you will also get a recommendation with details of how much lime to apply and that is what the real value of the testing is to you.
There are a number to types of lime you can choose from that your master gardener can recommend. Some of the mixes also are high in magnesium. The value of the lab test of your soil is that if you find out that you also need to apply magnesium, you can do that at the same time. Application of lime to the soil is a project so go into it knowing that. You will need a rototiller to really work it in so it might benefit you to contract the work done if you don’t have the machinery or are uncomfortable with working it.
You can add lime to your soil at any time when vegetation is growing so you would avoid the winter months. But follow this process and don’t apply the lime unless it is called for or you can cause more problems then if you had not put it down at all.
Going Green with Organic Lawn Care
The motto of the green movement is to think globally but act locally. To begin to live as environmentally conscious citizens of the planet, we must look at every aspect of our lives to find ways to “go green” and live in a way that protects our environment. And there may be no more appropriate place to go green than in how we take care of the biggest expanse of “green” you have which is the your lawn and how you care for it.
Our love of surrounding our homes with a lush green environment with many healthy and blooming flowers and plants in a way reflects our love of the natural world. So your desire to make your lawn a showcase is not at all against the principles of living green at all. The key is for us to find ways to perform that lawn care that is organic and natural and that will not harm the environment as we work to create that vision of the perfect lawn that you have in your head.
A very simple way to encourage a more organic and natural lawn is simply to let it grow longer than you might have otherwise. By allowing your yard to get longer and taller, it will fill in and that extra amount of grass above the ground generates more oxygen and is generally more organically sound. You can still get the look you want in your yard with a tall stand of grass. And a little known fact is that if the grass it taller, the roots are deeper which means they can find moisture better. That means your grass will be even healthier taller than if you trim the grass short.
Taking good care of your lawn mower is another way to make sure the act of caring for your lawn is environmentally conscious. The simple maintenance step of having your lawnmower blade sharpened or getting a new blade each year is a step that can do a lot for the health of the grass that lives in your yard. A sharp blade cuts the grass cleanly whereas a dull blade tends to damage grass which leads to injury and disease. Therefore using a sharp blade means a better cut to your yard, it also means healthier grass which is less prone to brown spots and illness as well as being environmentally conscious.
When the time comes to get a new mower, switching to an electric mower from an internal combustion engine cuts down on the emissions that your mower puts off as you cut the grass. It is a bit more of an effort to cut the grass with a power cord behind it but you can actually get mowers that work from a powerful battery. While the mower will be heavier, it will be cheaper to operate and the extra exercise will do you good.
Most of the natural steps you can take to a more organic approach to taking care of your lawn also make a lot of sense in terms or economy and being a good lawn owner. And by being environmentally conscious, you are taking one more step toward thinking globally and acting responsibly at the local level in how you care for your yard.
Going Green with Chemical Free Lawn Care
Finding ways to apply the principles of living green and in harmony with the environment isn’t always easy. That is because over the decades, we have come to depend on chemicals for so many things. From washing our clothes and cars to killing weeds in the yard, there is a chemical product for just about everything. So if you want to go organic even in your lawn care, it is going to take some adjustments and some getting used to.
One basic adjustment might mean a fundamental change to what we see as a “weed”. Many of the “pests” that we always fought in our yards actually produce lovely blooms in a natural state. Dandelions are an example of a “weed” whose only crime is not being grass. But the dandelion produces a lovely flower that many of us associate with the coming of spring and summer.
That said, you no doubt will have some objectives with your yard that include elimination of some weeds or objectionable vegetation. One great way to battle unwanted life is simply to give superpowers to the life you want out there and that is your grass. There are a number of organic recipes for fertilizing your lawn that you can use even before your grass springs to life each year. By getting on a regular program of fertilizing and maintaining your yard, your grass will have all it needs to become strong, resilient, and able to resist disease and even battle weeds directly.
Grass is notoriously greedy for land. That is one of the things we like about it. So if you do your part to make your grass strong and ambitious, it will crowd out weeds. By also maintaining a good mowing schedule, you will be giving your grass one more weapon to fight bad things that might compete for land, water and sunlight. Grass actually prospers when mowed whereas weeds are damaged by regular mowing. So that act of mowing which to you is just another step to make your lawn look good is also a very effective weed management program.
Of course, there is a very old fashioned method of weed control that has pretty much gone by the wayside in our new chemical driven world. It is tremendously effective, totally in step with the principles or living green and being one with the environment. And if it is done right, it can even be a family bonding event. That is just getting out there with hand held digging tools, shoves and rakes and pulling the weeds by hand.
Nothing kills a weed more effectively than being extracted from the earth root system and all. The remnants of the weeds can be disposed of in an environmentally friendly way and you get some exercise to boot. It might lead to some sore muscles every so often but one thing you have to say for the old fashioned of manual weed control in your yard and that is that its green and it works.
Finding the Best of Your Towns Lawn Care Companies
The decision to turn your lawn care over to a professional operation is often the right choice and it could be driven by a lot of factors. Perhaps your work keeps you too busy to do a really good job with your yard. Or the yard you own has some problems that a year with a professional service might address. Whatever the reason, the first step is picking the right company and then going from there.
You should have your consumer awareness radar working well when you begin to interview companies to do your lawn care. Before you open the phone book or even start your search, you must know for certain what you want from your new lawn service. Any lawn maintenance company is going to come to you with a laundry list of great things they can do for you. And they are going to come to that first meeting ready to sell you everything on the menu.
You cannot blame businesses who make their livings providing lawn services for being aggressive like that. It is how they make their livings so they have a right to try their best. But if you have a detailed work order ready for them when they come to do their estimate, they will notice how organized you are and look to earn your business based on what you want not on what they can suggest. This is the number one best first step toward making sure you get a lawn service that is a perfect fit to your needs.
The integrity and business value of the company is worth checking as you would with any company that you were going to engage for an important contract. So check them out with the better business people and get a full analysis on their viability as a business as well as how long they have been in business and any recognitions they have received for their work. In fact, if you are close to a decision and you can arrange to get a tour of their facilities to get a good feel for their equipment and the depth of their ability to provide you service, that can let you know which of the companies you are looking at are in the best position to meet your lawn care needs.
Along with their background and creditability, the professionalism and training of their employees is important. You may see a different representative of the company each time they come out to work with your lawn. You want to feel secure that each one of those workers knows what they are doing and knows your lawn and what needs to be done.
Probably the most powerful decision making factor will be the recommendation of other customers of any lawn care business you might engage. If that recommendation is from a friend or neighbor and you can see the good work in how great their lawn looks, that is a powerful proof that this is the lawn care service for you. But by putting each company through scrutiny and knowing what you want from the successful company, you are more assured that you will be happy with who you select.
Being Smart in the Use of Any Lawn Care Product
If you walk out in your garage, you probably have dozens of bottles of different products you may have bought over the years for your yard. The lawn products industry does a good job of convincing us that we need to spray something on our yard for just about any yard related correction we need to make. And the outcome is you often find yourself overrun with half used bottles of everything from broadleaf weed killer to sprays to kill grubs that might (or might not) be eating the roots of your grass and attracting moles.
This is not to say that these various products are not effective because they may very well do exactly what their labels say they will do. But no product can replace your judgment and wise decision making about how to use different products so you not only do what is best for your lawn but do so in an environmentally responsible way. Being smart in what products to use on your lawn and how to use them just makes sense and if you have a plan for each potential problem, you may not have to buy so many lawn chemicals which will make your garage easier to manage as well.
A good example is weed control. The purpose of weed control is twofold. First, you want to get rid of weeds because they look terrible in your lawn and you don’t want your yard to degenerate into a wild field. Secondly, you want to discourage weeds so they don’t crowd out your grass and take away valuable water, nutrients and sunlight from the vegetable life you want to see thrive on your property.
The chemical approach to handling weeds then is to kill them. Broadleaf weed killers are good for some of the problem weeds because they cause the weeds to wither and die which leaves room for healthy grass to spread and grow into the available space. However, whenever you spray a liquid weed killer on your lawn, the potential for damage to the root systems of trees or that the toxins will kill desirable non-grass plants like flowers or bushes is a real concern.
So one way to head off the problem before it starts is to do your lawn treatment in the early fall and then the late winter by putting out a pre-emergent product which does not kill weeds. Instead is simply prevents germination of weed seeds that are lying dormant in the ground. When the weeds cannot germinate and grow into mature plants, that gives your grass the chance to grow and spread with the aid of the limited application of fertilizers. This is smart weed control and an approach that takes care of the problem before it really takes over your yard.
You can use some common sense and wise advice from your local expert gardeners that you can find working at one of the better greenhouses in your community to devise a smart plan for handling just about any lawn related problem. You may still find yourself using chemical products to get a problem area under control. But by being smart before you buy, you are using the right chemicals and not just anything that you find that will only clutter up your garage even further.