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.
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.
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.
Having a Great Yard is Easy with the Right Lawn Care Equipment
In any big project, having the right tools is key to your success. This is certainly true when you set out to have a really great lawn. There is a basic set of equipment that you need to work with virtually every week as you perform the maintenance not only to make your yard healthy, green and growing but to trim it so it looks great and gives your home that “curb appeal” that is so valuable. While the tools of the trade of an expert lawn keeper are not exotic, you do want to invest in quality because you are going to be using them a lot.
The backbone of any good yard equipment garage is a reliable and versatile lawnmower. Now the style and size of mower you will need is entirely dependent what kind of mowing challenges you have ahead of you. But no one tool will have more scope of work to do than this machine in that your lawnmower routinely covers every square foot of the yard. So the impact of this important piece of equipment is pretty powerful when you stop and think about it.
For most average sized yards, your standard push mower is a good choice. But there are a lot of choices in brands and extras you can choose from. Now in the current environment of fuel economy, its easy to take a second look at electric lawn mowers and other alternatives like that. They are viable alternatives but you must take into account that you don’t want to have to drag a power cord around the yard. And the alternative is to mount a heavy battery on the mower, which is cumbersome. Overall, the regular gas using mower is the most efficient and well developed type that will last the longest. And it doesn’t use that much gas if you keep it in good repair.
Of course, for a large yard or acreage, you will probably look at a riding lawnmower or some form of tractor. But even in push mowers, there are various mechanisms for assisted pulling. Many of them work with gear systems so the engine turns the wheels for you. The problem with these types of mowers is maneuverability. If you need to turn and move the mower around quite a lot, you will constantly be disengaging the gears to take over the controls. And if you are always doing that, it was not really worth the extra expense those mowers bring with them to have a feature that just gets in the way.
Along with a good mower, you will need a reliable trimmer to take care of the areas where the mower will not reach. You should look to stock some saws that you can use easily to take care of low hanging branches or things that fall to the lawn if you have a lot of large trees on property. A spreader is a handy tool to keep because applying weed killer and fertilizer is ritual you will repeat several times each year. Along with these basics, you should build a good supply or hoses and watering equipment and even a shovel or two and some rakes to keep the yard trim and free of debris year round. With this arsenal of tools, you can keep your yard looking good spring, summer, fall and winter and then turn around and do it all over again next year.
Getting in Tune with Nature through Natural Lawn Care
Maybe one of the biggest pleasures of having a lush, green yard surrounding your home is that sense of being at one with nature. Even if you are not an environmentalist, it is in our nature to enjoy being in the middle of grass, trees, shrubs and flowers. That contact with nature keeps us grounded and at one with the world we live in. So it makes sense as much as is possible to get in tune with that part of nature that is growing in your yard. Grass that grows on your property may look like a very civilized carpet of green. But it is still naturally growing vegetation and the more you learn to encourage its natural strength, the stronger your grass will be to resist weeds and disease and the better it will look.
The best place to start your plans for a strong and natural lawn is in the type of grass seed you use as the base of your turf of grass. If you start shopping for a grass type that will do well and provide the look you want in terms of color and thickness, you will find that the varieties of grass seeds is pretty extensive. Before you pick a grass seed to nurture for your new lawn, it is always best to get some advice from experts on your local climate and how certain seeds do well in the soil types in your community and how they respond to temperatures you can expect throughout the growing season.
Many grasses do well in cooler temperatures but begin to thin out when the heat of the summer sets in. Bermuda grass, which is a very popular seed, grows slowly in the spring and fall but thrives on full sunlight and heat. Picking a good grass seed can be tricky if you have a lawn that has partial shade and some land that is exposed to sunlight. Many lawn owners opt to go with a Bermuda type turf for exposed parts of the yard and a shade seed or seed blend for the covered areas. While this will result in a full yard overall, it could be that the where the grasses change over will be obvious as the type of turf and the color changes between the two types of grass.
Also, keep in mind how you use fertilizer and weed killer so you are giving your grass what it needs and doing so naturally with as little introduction of unnatural chemicals as possible. Pre-emergent chemicals work in step with the natural cycle of both grass and weed growth by giving your dormant grass good nutrients to start out strong when the growing season starts. This takes advantage of the natural tendency of grass to choke out weeds in order to take over the ground space. If you also apply a pre-emergent weed control that does not just poison the weeds. Instead, these chemicals hinder the germination of weeds before they come out (hence pre-emergent) in a natural way which gives the advantage to your grass seeds.
By thinking herbal and organic in all aspects of your lawn care, it is entirely possible to grow a vibrant lawn with strong color and do so without contaminating the water tables or using damaging chemicals. Your yard will be stronger and healthier and you will feel better about your support of the environment as well. That is a good combination.