• Winter Lawn Preparation

    Preparing your lawn for the upcoming winter is crucial if you wish to maintain a healthy lawn and hope to see a green, lush lawn next spring. How you treat your lawn now can directly impact how well your lawn will do during the hot summer months of next year. There are several things you can do to help your lawn endure the winter months, along with continuing your maintenance and upkeep, with a few slight changes.

    Cut back on watering your lawn as temperatures begin to cool. Adjust your irrigation systems to avoid wasting water. During summer months your lawn typically required about 1" of water per week, but you can cut back to half that as temperatures cool, and almost completely if your lawn goes dormant (turns brown).

    As the weather cools, your lawn will grow more slowly and you can also cut back on mowing. You should continue to mow at a height of 2"-3", and you may even want to raise the mower a half an inch. This will help increase the leaf area of your grass, allowing it to capture more sunlight and store more food in the grass roots, which will help with earlier green-up in the spring. This will also help the grass become more dense, thus crowding out weeds and preventing them from establishing. Be sure to remove leaves off the grass, or even better, use a mower with a mulcher that will shred the leaves and distribute them back onto the lawn. Fallen leaves are a great source of organic matter and nutrients for your lawn.

    After you have given your lawn one of the last scheduled mowing’s before winter, aerate your lawn to help reduce compaction and make it easier for fertilizer to reach the roots of the lawn. Be sure to aerate your grass at least four weeks before the first frost is expected to occur. After a final mowing and after you have aerated, you will want to apply your fertilizer. Late fall fertilization is typically the most important fertilization of the year as it prepares your lawn for the following summer season. Be sure to apply fertilizer before temperatures are too cold and the grass starts to discolor. While nitrogen is normally the most important nutrient in your fertilizer, during fall and winter your lawn may be in more need of potassium. Potassium helps with winter hardiness and improves disease and drought tolerance.

    Winter weed problems can be minimized by applying pre-emergent herbicides in the early fall, before weeds start coming up. If seeds are treated now, they won't have a chance to sprout. Perennial weeds like dandelion are more easily killed by spraying an herbicide in the fall rather than a summer application. Which herbicide to use depends on what type of grass you have and which weeds have been problems.

    Overseeding your lawn is helpful in achieving a fuller and green lawn. You will want to overseed your lawn several (about six) weeks before the temperatures drop to freezing so it has time to establish and develop a strong root system. If you still have bare spots after your initial reseeding, try a second application. Be sure to continue to water the spots you have re-seeded, even if you have cut back on watering the rest of your lawn, to help the new seed establish.

    Taking the time to prepare your lawn for the winter months will have lasting benefits. Not only will maintaining your lawn help it stay healthy and strong during winter months, it will be ready to withstand the stresses of a hot summer.

  • How to Increase Your Home’s Curb Appeal

    Whether you’re trying to sell your house or plan on living in it for decades, as a homeowner you should take the time to ensure the exterior of your property is presentable. Increasing the curb of appeal of your home can go a long way towards ensuring it remains a valuable piece of property, which is essential no matter how long you plan on living in it. Proper landscaping is one component of increasing your home’s curb appeal, and you can utilize some of the following suggestions.

    The last thing you want is a house that is so overgrown with plants, grass, and branches that you can barely see the property itself. If you have to get through a small forest just to find your front door, it may be time to clean up the yard. Spend a day mowing your grassing, trimming hedges, and cleaning up any excess branches.

    Putting down a fresh layer of sod can radically transform any yard, even ones that haven’t been properly maintained for years. The greener the grass, the more it looks like you are putting thought and care into your home’s upkeep. Once you’ve taken care of your lawns grass, you can move on to more advanced projects like having walkways installed, placing exterior lights, and other ways to spruce up the landscape.

    If needed, give your home a fresh coat of paint. Also make sure you regularly clean any exterior shutters, wash your driveway, and remove leafs and other debris from your roof. These are all things that can be easily spotted from the sidewalk, and they shouldn’t be a problem if you stay on top of things in regards to your home’s curb appeal.

  • Springtime Lawn Mowing Tips

    There are few better ways to express pride in your home than with a well-manicured, great looking lawn, no matter what time of year it is. This is why American homeowners take a great deal of pride in their yards. Lawn watering, fertilizing and mowing are labors of love homeowners from coast to coast painstakingly put forth season after season, year after year.

    Many don’t’ realize, however, there are certain requirements that change with the season when it comes to lawn care. There's more to grass cutting than starting a lawnmower and pushing it across your lawn. Mowing height and frequency are crucial components to a healthy lawn.

    For example, cutting your grass short is harmful to your lawn in the long run. This removes nutrients stored in grass and exposes the soil to sunlight. This is where weeds can start to overtake your lawn. This is because taller grass is better able to compete with weeds with a larger root system, higher tolerance for heat and acts to shield the soil from transient weed pollen carried by the wind.

    Higher grass is also effective in shading the ground and subsequently retaining water more effectively. Determine what kind of grass you have and seek professional advice on what level is best suited for optimum health. These heights could range anywhere from 1-4 inches, so it’s quite the range.

    Moreover, you are going to want to mow your lawn often enough to remove no more than the top one-third of the blades- regardless of the type of grass- and use a mulching mower. This prevents stress on the grass and brown patches, as smaller clippings are able to decompose more quickly without killing any grass underneath. And the best food for your grass is grass clippings so avoid bagging.

  • Basic Sod Types and Differences

    We offer a variety of sod depending on where you are located. There are a few specific types that are a popular and great choice throughout California, often depending on personal preference.

    Our fescue and bluegrass blends are a great option for a number of reasons. This sod holds up great in high traffic areas, stays green all year, is both heat and drought tolerant, and is resistant to common disease problems. The fescue/bluegrass blend is made of up 90% fescue and 10% bluegrass, with the bluegrass helping to nicely fill in and thicken your lawn and maintain excellent reparability. This type of blend is considered your traditional sod lawn and has a slightly stiffer and thicker blade. If you are located in and having sod delivered to areas near Sacramento, Redding, or the Bay Area, we also carry another type of fescue/bluegrass blend. This blend has a finer, softer, taller blade, along with the other qualities of the traditional fescue/bluegrass blend described above. We also have the option of a 100% fescue sod in these same locations.

    Another popular sod choice is bermuda. We offer a few different types of bermuda depending on your location. Bermuda grass is excellent for high traffic areas, is both drought and heat tolerant, resistant to common disease problems, and can typically be watered less than other sod varieties. Bermuda can also be cut lower (usually 1/2"-3/4") and will look best when cut with a reel mower (forward moving blade that cuts close to the ground) as opposed to a rotary mower. Bermuda does go dormant (turns brown) during winter months, but can be over seeded with a perennial ryegrass. One type of bermuda, Tifgreen, has a very fine blade, is dense, dark green, has a carpet-like appearance, and is often used in locations like school playgrounds. Another type, Tifway, also has a fine blade, adapts well to shade and sun, and is often used for golf courses and football fields. Our Celebration bermuda has a blue/green color, a soft fine blade, establishes and recovers quickly, and can be used on a variety of sports fields, playgrounds and residential areas.

    Another sod variety is St. Augustine (offered in specific locations). St. Augustine grass establishes and grows quickly, has a thick, coarse, and tight blades, and is both heat and drought tolerant. It has a carpet-like appearance, and like most bermuda grasses, it needs to be cut with a reel mower and can go dormant in the winter.

    While most all sod types need a minimum of 5-6 hours of sunlight per day, we do offer a special Shade Blend that consists of fescue, bluegrass and various shade blends. It can withstand up to 40% daily shade, but will also do well in full sun.

    Another specialty sod type is our Mow-Free sod. This type has a relaxed meadow look, has slow growing, narrow, lax blades, and is dark green and glossy. It does well in the shade and is often used for slopes. Mow-Free sod is usually left unmowed or mowed once a year.

    Bluegrass (a four-way bluegrass blend) is a nice dark green sod that offers uniform growth and quick healing and recovery from heavy traffic and damage. It does well during colder months and in cooler climates, thus not being as heat tolerant as other sod options. It requires more frequent watering and mowing, but performs well at crowding out weeds.

    Blue-Rye is a 50% bluegrass and 5% premium ryegrass blend. This blend has a nice blue-green appearance all year, is heat and drought tolerant, and grows well in sandy or clay soil. This type of sod also performs will in high traffic areas and provides quick healing and uniform growth. Because of this excellent quality, it is often used on golf courses and sports fields.

    These are a just a few of our most popular sod varieties that are offered throughout the state. When selecting your sod, take into consideration your climate, location and how the area will be used. These factors, along with your own personal preference, will help determine your sod choice.

  • The Many Reasons for Lawn Aeration

    Aeration is a standard lawn care practice that can improve the quality and performance of your lawn. The most common reason aeration is performed is to help reduce soil compaction. Soils that contain a lot of clay, or lawns that see heavy foot or equipment traffic can become compacted over time. This constricts the amount of oxygen, nutrients, and water that is allowed to move through the lawn and root system. When a lawn is too compacted, the turf will grow slowly and poorly, which can in turn make the lawn more susceptible to insect damage, drought conditions and disease. Lawns that become compacted often may be aerated several times a year. Proper aeration will in turn help control thatch, which is often a result of compacted soil. Aeration helps water and fertilizer move to the roots, often reducing water runoff. When removing the cores of soil, the aerator machine also severs roots, stimulating the grass to produce new growth, creating a denser lawn.

    Aeration is done by using an aerator that pokes holes into the ground throughout the lawn, removing cores or plugs of soil. These soil cores should be about two to four inches deep, 1/4 - 1/2 inch wide, and about four inches apart throughout the lawn. You may need to make multiple passes over your lawn, especially the most compacted areas. Thoroughly watering your lawn a day or two before you aerate will allow for the cores of soil to be easily removed, but avoid watering too much. If the soil is too wet or sticky, aerating may cause further soil compaction. Cores may be either removed or left on the lawn, but it is recommended to leave them on lawns, especially lawns that have more than a 1/2 inch of thatch. Lawns can be fertilized immediately after aeration and watering should also occur soon after aeration. Hand aerators can be rented, or for large or extremely compacted lawns, machine aerators can also be rented.

    The best time to aerate is in the spring or fall, when the ground is not frozen but also not too hot or dry. Spring is a great time to aerate warm season grasses as the grass is actively growing. Cool season grasses are best aerated in the fall when there is less heat stress. If you see areas of your lawn that have been damaged because of too much compaction, for example, you will definitely want to aerate your soil during the spring or fall months. If certain areas of your lawn are sparse or bare, seeding about a month after aeration will improve the look and density of your lawn. Aeration is a simple part of lawn maintenance that is often overlooked. Taking the time to aerate and maintain your lawn can have a huge impact on the quality and appearance of your turf grass.

  • Winter Watering Article

    Winter watering can be tricky since a specific “recipe” for how and when to water your lawn does not exist. Watering depends on many factors, including soil type, grass species and temperature. Cool season lawns, such as ryegrasses or fescues, prefer cooler temperatures and do well during mild winters, but still require consistent watering if there are long periods of no rainfall during winter months. Warm season lawns, such as St. Augustine or bermuda grasses, excel during the summer and go dormant (turn brown, but do not die) during winter months as temperatures drop. As grass goes dormant, it stops growing and demanding much less water.

    Typically, plants need half as much water in spring and fall as they do in mid-summer. During normal winter months with consistent rainfall, usually from mid-November to mid-March, you can turn automatic systems off completely, especially if you have a warm season grass. (Weather patterns determine if clocks can be turned off.) In addition, our days are shorter with less sunshine and have cooler nights, reducing the amount of water a lawn needs to stay healthy. Also, almost every morning most lawns will get generous amounts of dew that will soak it, thus irrigating more than once a week is unnecessary.

    How much water you need and when will depend on how much water is already in the soil, which depends on the amount of rainfall. During extended dry periods, even in the winter, if temperatures are at 40 degrees, have sprinklers come on in the early morning before sunrise to allow the water time to soak in before it evaporates in the heat of the sun. When temperatures are below 40 degrees, you may want to wait until mid-day to water, still allowing time for water to soak in before night time freezing. If it has just rained, or it is expected to rain, don't water.

    Grass grows more slowly during the colder months, requiring less watering and mowing. Watching your lawn closely will help you determine whether you should turn your irrigation on or off. Look for certain signs and water your grass only when it shows signs of wilt, when about half the blades are folded and are blue-gray in color, and when footprints remain in the lawn. The most efficient way to water is to wet only the rootzone area, not saturate the soil, and not allow any water run-off. If your lawn has not received at least 1/4-1/2 inch of rain over the course of a few weeks, your soil is probably very dry and your grass is likely suffering, especially in sunny areas and those with more foot traffic. These areas can benefit from about 1/2 inch once a month while it is still winter and in the absence of rain. Even in the winter, warm season grasses need adequate moisture to keep the roots of the grass hydrated. While this is usually provided by even moderate amounts of rainfall, during seasons of drought your lawn should be adequately hydrated to aid in new spring growth.

    Grass height and frequency of mowing also have a significant effect on lawn health. Most residential lawns in California have fescue grass, which should be kept at 2 inches high during winter months and cut every other week. If a lawn is kept too short, it will have a very shallow root zone that cannot reach the moisture deeper in the soil, which can result in a lawn that requires more frequent watering. Following your basic lawn care maintenance practices can greatly aid in maintaining a healthy lawn, even during winters with very little to no rainfall.

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