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.
Proper Mowing is the Heart of Responsible Lawn Care
Maintaining a lawn takes a little bit of tender loving care every so often. The great thing about a healthy and well cared for lawn is that once it is established and doing well, it pretty much takes care of itself. A strong stand of grass will actually choke out weeds just because it is protective of the ground and sun space the grass uses to grow and thicken. For the most part, your lawn gets what it needs from the rain, an occasional watering and the soil. And if you give it a little fertilizer every once in a while, that helps things along as well. But you don’t need to do that more than couple times a year because you can do as much damage over tending your lawn as neglecting it.
The one routine maintenance step you should plan to work on probably around once a week depending on growth is mowing the lawn. It sounds like this is just a basic step to keep the lawn from looking ragged and to keep the neighbors satisfied. But mowing does a lot for your yard to keep it healthy as well. Grass is unique among wild vegetation because it thrives on being mowed. The cutting stimulates growth and spreading. If some or all of the cuttings get down into the soil, that provides mulch for nutrients.
But maybe most valuable is that weeds do not thrive on mowing. When you cut off the heads of weeds, they do not have that upper growth to gather sunlight and produce spores for reproduction. The weakened weeds are then easy prey for aggressive grass sprouts to crowd them out of your yard. In that way, mowing is a natural form of weed control. This is why early in the season, mowing low works because not only does it encourage grass growth but it sucks up much of the residue, which prepares the turf for new growth. In addition, you want a relatively clean grounds early so the fertilizer you put down to jump start the yard can get down to the roots.
But as the summer progresses, lawn experts call for raising the blades of your mower so you are cutting the yard higher and leaving it somewhat longer than earlier. This encourages root growth. And the deeper the root system, the better your grass becomes at finding water and nutrients. The more well established your yard will be which helps it survive the dormant months ahead.
The court is out on whether to catch your grass or to allow the cuttings to go into the soil for mulch. In general, you will get some residue from mowing even if you catch and that is probably sufficient mulch. If you allow too much mulch, it can become a “thatch” which restricts airflow and even water penetration to the roots of your grass. So be smart in how you approach even this basic task of mowing your lawn so you are doing so in a way that encourages long term growth and health for this important part of your property.
New Lawn Care Means Getting It Right the First Time
It doesn’t happen very often but if you are looking out of the windows of your new home at a plot of bare dirt because you decided to establish your new lawn yourself, you might feel a little intimidated. But this is a rare opportunity to lay down a superior lawn from the very beginning. And that strong start may be the beginning of a lawn that continues to grow in lush and full each year and that resists disease and weeds even better than average lawns.
You made the right decision if you decided not to let the builder put in the lawn. Builders are not master gardeners and while they would put in a lawn that would probably grow, they are not going to look at this project in terms of a decades long investment in your yard. They just want to get the job done as cheaply as possible so you will sign off on the job so they can move on to the next job. But by keeping this job back until how it is done passes your scrutiny, you can make sure that before the first seed is dropped or piece of sod is unrolled, the soil was prepared and everything is as it should be.
Many times, there will be preparation of the soil to be done. This is a perfect time to have the soil evaluated for acidic levels and to determine that it is rich enough to support a strong yard. If not, you can have lime treatments done and do other remedial work to the soil before the grass goes down. You can also turn the soil and smooth it out as well as add compost and other rich nutrients so your new grass will have a great bed of soil to start its new life with.
You also have a lot of choices about what kind of grass to put in. The choices will impact the look and the health of your yard. This is a good time to make it your passion to learn all you can about how different varieties of grass do in your part of the country and how they would fit on your plot of land. Some grasses such as Bermuda grass are tough and spread well but it loves the open sun and lots of heat. If you have a shady lot or you don’t get that much heat where you live, look at other grasses more adaptable to where you are.
All of this preparation will serve you well. Also, consider whether to go with a seed based installation or sod. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Seed will probably give you a more assured installation and sometimes sod comes with weeds already started along with the grass. But seed takes a lot of watering and care in the first months of yard life so be sure you are prepared to make that kind of commitment. If you do and you have done your preparations well, you are assured of a beautiful lawn that will take root and continue to be healthy and make your home look beautiful for many years to come.
Lawn Care Products That You and Everybody Else Can Live With
Any trip to the lawn care section of Wal-Mart or your local hardware store will bring home dramatically that the variety and quantity of chemical fertilizers and other products to take care of your yard is pretty overwhelming. So the natural question that has to come to mind especially in our current world where “green” considerations enter into every aspect of daily life is, “What will all these chemicals do to the environment?”
If you have become accustomed to asking that question about most of your purchase decisions as many of us have, you have made the transition to the motto of “think globally, act locally.” The very act of walking down your yard with a spreader and watching those granules of chemicals spew across your land makes you wonder if what you are giving to your grass is good for the rest of the world.
For one thing, many lawn products such as fertilizers and pesticides are not at all good for pets or wildlife. How often have you looked out your window after a big application of fertilizer or weed killer and watched the birds land in your yard and eat things from the ground as they always do. Watching nature in your yard is one of the joys of having a home. But if you suspect that you might be poisoning nature as those birds innocently find things to eat in your yard, that takes a lot of the joy out of what you are doing.
You may also have pets to think about. Try as you might, if you have a domestic dog or cats and they go outside ever, they will chew on the vegetation out there. Taking some small quantities of grass or leaves helps their digestion. That assumes, of course, that what they are eating is natural and not coated with life threatening poisons intended for weeds or to fertilize the grass.
It is with these concerns in mind that many of us have turned to natural alternatives for fertilizers and other lawn products. Just as you are “going green”, so are many of the industries that sell products for the home. And what better place to “go green” than in your yard where you are working hard to make your grass grow green and healthy and to create your own tiny example of a healthy environment.
So look for products that specifically state that the chemicals are organic and that they are safe for pets and wildlife alike. Yes, those products are out there and you can look to see this category of lawn products become more evident as the green movement picks up steam. You might have to pay a few more dollars for fertilizers and weed control chemicals that are in harmony with the environment and are safe for Fido or Fluffy to taste. But in the end, a strong environment and a healthy yard for the birds, your animals and even your children to frolic is what “home” is all about.
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.