Most of us are not handy at repairing things in and around the home. We may just simply lack the expertise to accomplish a given task or perhaps not physically capable. More complex projects require specialized equipment delivered by large trucks that need professional operators to accomplish their specific task. So from refrigerator repair to home additions to landscape renovations, how do you choose from a virtual who’s-who of available contractors? Do you just choose a local company in your neighborhood? Do you read ‘unreliable’ online reviews that could be posted by anyone? Do you take a leap of faith and select the most popular listing or choose somone who advertises frequently? Hiring a trustworthy, fair and reliable contractor is more difficult today than ever. What can you do?
One of the very best places to begin for a business or contractor referral is with family, friends or neighbors for solid recommendations. These are people that you know and trust in giving you an honest opinion of their experiences. Most every business will tell you that their best advertising is by word-of-mouth. Hopefully it is all good because just one disgruntled customer can tell multiple people about their bad experience. For some reason bad word-of-mouth experiences can become more viral than good word-of-mouth experiences. This human behavior falls under the same heading as people being quicker to complain than to praise. Be sure to ask for and to check references.
What if you can find no one that can give you a reliable business referral? As the famous line goes, ‘Who you gonna call?’ One place to begin is with professional trade organizations. Although no one at a trade organization can recommend one company over another, they can tell you if the company in question is a member in good standing. Most reliable companies will be members of one or more trade or industry related organizations. An online search should give you a good listing of trade organizations for any specific industry. This can be on a local level, state level and even national level trade organizations.
Businesses that want to be recognized within certain municipalities will be members of their local area chamber of commerce. Ask your potential business\contractor if they are a member of at least one chamber of commerce. A phone call to their member chamber of commerce could also provide information on whether or not this entity is in good standing. Don’t expect a referral but only names of participating member businesses within the chamber.
Possibly the absolute best, unbiased and fact based information that you can unearth on any given business is the Better Business Bureau. Unlike popular web based “lists” that can be convoluted with unvalidated comments, a contractor does not have to pay to be listed or to be evaluated, whether good or bad, within the BBB. You are reported on unbiased facts only. Basically the Better Business Bureau exists to ensure integrity, performance and trust of businesses in how they relate to us, the consumer. Visit the BBB website and discover for yourself their mission statement and their values in their commitment to a better and ethical marketplace. http://www.bbb.org/us/BBB-Mission/ Best wishes in finding your best and most reliable choice for your business\contractor needs!
Buck & Sons Landscape Service, Inc. is an A+ Accredited Business with the Better Business Bureau of Ohio. http://www.bbb.org/centralohio/business-reviews/landscape-contractors/buck-and-sons-landscape-service-in-hilliard-oh-437
As the weather turns cool and crisp, you might be tempted to think that your lawn and garden don’t need you anymore. But now is the best time to condition your landscape for a strong start to next spring. Your lawn and ornamentals will also reward you next spring if you give them a hand in making the most of the cooler months.
Don’t abandon the lawn!
During the fall, don’t be fooled as the top growth of your lawn slows. The real action is happening below ground, because this is the time of year when root growth goes into high gear. Fall fertility promotes healthy root growth especially when the soil has been opened through aeration. Roots that have nutrients, adequate moisture and room to expand can store more nutrients for better winter color and earlier spring green-up. Aerate and feed your lawn this fall!
Fortify your trees and shrubs with a good solid meal this fall
Trees and most all other ornamental plants need care in the fall be it pruning, cutting back, mulching or feeding. Fertilization is extremely important in the fall where root growth is building reserves for growth and flower production during the fall and winter. Investing in your landscape now will pay you back many times over next year. Be sure to call us with any questions or requests for quotations. Fall feeding of woody ornamentals has been proven as the optimal time of year to feed these ornamentals.
The only game in town, as far as spectacular spring blooming displays are concerned, remains to be in fall planted bulbs. Of course we are talking about the ever popular spring bloomers such as tulip, daffodil, hyacinth, lily, iris etc. To most of us though that want instant gratification, bulb planting in the fall seems like such a waste of money, time and back-breaking effort. But after about four long cold months, your investment “springs” to life and rewards your efforts with beautiful and unsurpassed colorful displays. The good news too is that bulbs such as daffodils reward you year after year and there are hundreds of varieties and types of bulbs from which to choose. Don’t miss your fall opportunity to spring some life into your landscape investment. For bulb ideas, we have provided you with a link to one of our spring flowering bulb suppliers. SpringDisplays. If prompted for a password, enter ‘shovel‘.
Be sure to use our exclusive and completely free online calculator to determine exactly how many bulbs that you will need here
Lawn Aeration – What is It?
Lawn aeration, also known as core aeration is the process of mechanically removing small vertical soil “plugs” approximately 2”-4” in depth from the surface of your lawn. The diameter of these circular core plugs are usually around ½”. The plug itself contains a small cross section of grass, grass roots and thatch; but mostly soil.
Why aerate your lawn?
The main reason that we aerate our lawns is to reduce soil compaction. Over time, activities such as playing sports, lawn mowing, pet activity or simply just walking on your lawn creates soil compaction. Soil compacting forces are most severe in poorly drained or wet sites. Compaction greatly reduces the pore space within the soil that would normally hold air. Roots require oxygen to grow and absorb nutrients and water. Soil compaction simply inhibits the roots ability to do these necessary, life sustaining functions. Aeration reduces soil compaction allowing for a healthy growing environment for your plants roots.
When is the best time to core aerate my lawn?
For Midwest, and northern lawns, the fall season is better time for lawn aeration.
- Minimal weed seed present to germinate into opened soils
- Soil plugs have all winter do disintegrate into the top layer of your turf
- Cool season grasses spread out and increase their root growth in the fall
- Your lawn will be ready for natural rainfall and nutrients in the spring
Core aeration can benefit your lawn by:
- Increasing the activity of soil microorganisms that decompose and break down any present thatch layer
- Increasing water, nutrient and oxygen movement into the root zone and soil levels
- Improving root development and overall plant health
- Enhancing the soil profile to allow for rainfall or irrigation to penetrate
- Helping prevent fertilizer and pesticide run-off from overly compacted areas
How can I get my lawn aerated?
Many local equipment rental services provide machine driven mechanical aerators. You may need access to a friend’s truck or utilize a small trailer to transport the machine. Also, not aerators are created equal. Some devices simply “spike” the soil and do not physically pull up core plugs creating the much needed air spaces. In fact, some spiking type machines can actually cause more compaction.
Most full service landscape companies and lawn services offer core aeration services if you find the prospect of doing it yourself too daunting.
Unfortunately, most people don’t think about seeding their lawns in the fall after drought, disease and insect damaged areas have been created throughout the summer growing season. Instead, most people think about spring lawn seeding which is much less than the ideal time to seed. The only other worst timing for seeding would be mid-summer in the extreme heat or late fall when the seed might germinate only to be killed by freezing temperatures.
Does my lawn need to be completely torn out and start over?
Depending on the condition of your lawn, there are a variety of ways to make your lawn one in which you can be proud. If your lawn is thin or has some smaller bare areas, you should consider slice seeding or overseeding. This can be done by a commercial contractor that has this specialty type of equipment or you can rent slice-seeders from select locations. If your lawn is a complete mess and you want to fix it immediately, perhaps sodding is your best option. If you want to choose the exact type of turf seed that will be called your future lawn, maybe a complete lawn renovation is in order for your more discerning turf palette. For spotty, minor lawn problems, spot seeding with a little topsoil might be your solution. No matter which option you choose to repair your lawn, your decision should be based upon its current condition, your desired quality of your lawn and your patience, the availability of irrigation and of course, your budget. Lawn sodding is much more expensive than lawn seeding.
Why or why not use sod?
Sod is an instant lawn. Adding sod to your home lawn is like going to the hospital to pick up your newborn baby without having had nine months of gestation and prenatal care. Instant lawn….instant baby! Lawn sodding eliminates or at least minimizes any initial weed problems and reduces or eliminates erosion on slopes. Sod comes in different blends of grasses. The most common sod that you will encounter in the Midwest is grown from a blend of Kentucky bluegrasses. You should ask your sod supplier for the seed mix or blend from which your sod was grown. The downside to sodding is that you are not establishing the plant in the native soil from which it was grown. When you install sod, you are bringing in soil that is different than the native soil. This results in the root system wanting to stay in the soil from the sod and not move into your native soil. Many times, sodded lawns decline over five years due to the differences in soil types.
Core aeration and overseeding
Don’t confuse core aeration with slice seeding or overseeding. Core aeration is the process of mechanically pulling up plugs of soil and thatch from your lawn. This technique reduces soil compaction, minimizes thatch accumulation, and will give you an overall healthier lawn. Core aeration combined with overseeding is an alternative to slice seeding because it combines aeration with the benefit of adding a select seed variety to your lawn. Core aeration combined with overseeding however will not produce the same results as a true slice seeding machine.
Fall is the time for turf. Kentucky bluegrass especially loves the warm days and cooler evenings of the fall season. With proper care and the right seed mix, you can have your lawn looking its best by late fall. A thick, dark green lawn is a beautiful canvas to fallen gold and red leaves of October.
Flower Fireworks or flower fizzle?
Summer is in full swing and hopefully you have planted or are in the process of planting your annual flowers. Nothing accentuates the landscape more than a nicely placed, healthy grouping of annual flower color. The question is, does your annual flower display explode with vibrant colors or does your flower display merely sit in your landscape and meekly exist without much notice whatsoever?
So what’s the secret to growing vibrant, healthy, explosive annual flowers? The answer is not as simple as you might think. For any plant, annual flower or otherwise, location, location, location is the primary consideration. How much sun, wind, reflective heat, shade, soil condition, slope and soil condition are all important elements to take into account before choosing your seasonal plants for color.
Never let your infant annuals dry out….ever!
First of all, annual flowers are grown in very small pots with a very small root system. Allowing them to dry out can cause quick demise or at best, a stressful set back from which they may never completely recover. Annual flowers dry out QUICKLY! This is probably one of the top reasons why folks have mediocre flower displays in their landscape.
Know your Location
Be sure to choose the right type of annual flowers for the right locations. Some plants such as the ever popular geranium require as much sun as you can provide during the day. As more sun is available to the geraniums the flowers become more compact and full of bloom. Some plants like begonias and impatiens can tolerate a wide range of conditions, thus their popularity. Certain taller accent plants like large caladiums (elephant ears) or banana trees will be torn to shreds if placed in a windy location. For an aesthetically pleasing annual display, make sure you plant in the correct environmental conditions.
Prepare your soil
Spending extra time to prepare your planting soil will pay you in explosive dividends with any plant, especially when dealing with annual flowers. Annuals prefer a rich, well drained soil. Adding peat moss, comtil or any other organic compost material will loosen as well as enrich the soil with much needed nutrients. Planting in heavy clay soil is a no win proposition. Your annuals will have no chance to thrive or possibly live at all in such undesirable conditions.
Clear out the old mulch
Another common problem that we see is that individuals don’t plant their new annuals properly. Annuals need to be planted down into the soil level. Plant beds over the years can develop a thick layer of mulch. Many times the unsuspecting flower planter will diligently trowel out their planting holes but the annuals are planted high up in this thick layer of mulch and they never reach the soil. Again, this technique will cause an annual flower to fizzle at best. In many cases, these annuals will die.
More is better!
Don’t let your annuals be lonely. It is a waste of time and energy to plant solitary annual flowers spaced many feet apart. This is the equivalent to painting a few lines on your walls inside your home. Perhaps a better analogy would be to place a shrub spaced ten to twenty feet apart along the front of your home. You just won’t get the impact that a grouping will provide. Be sure to plant your flowers in groupings large enough to make a statement. You may certainly mix varieties but still keep the grouping theme in mind.
Feed your flowers!
The final key to success in having an excellent explosion of annual flower color is fertilizer. Be sure to feed your annual flowers! They grow fast and they require nutrients to do this. There are several popular brands from which to choose from and just as many ways to deliver the nutrients as well. We like to use granular slow release products when our annuals are first planted and then follow up in two to three weeks with a liquid fertilizer. Don’t forget to feed again in about another month to keep the fireworks going. The granular slow release fertilizer will keep feeding them throughout the season while the liquid fertilizers can provide for quick explosive bursts of energy and bloom.
The beauty and simplicity of annual color can bring any landscape to life. Just a little splash of color can turn that pumpkin of a home or business in to an elegant and attractive chariot overnight. By preparing your beds, correctly planting your annuals and by watering and fertilizing, you will have that beautiful summer oasis of which you have always dreamed.
If you like to spend your hard earned money on lawn waste bags, cram them full of grass clippings, and then drag them to the curb for pick up, don’t bother reading this. However, if you wish that you could make your lawn cutting chore a little easier, a little cheaper, and help the earth while you are at it, you might want to read on.
First of all, lawn waste bags are an unnecessary waste of paper. We may have to cut the grass, but we shouldn’t have to cut down trees to use for hauling away those clippings! Grass clippings are made mostly of moisture and nitrogen. You pay good money, in the form of fertilizers, to put nitrogen on your lawn to make it grow, be lush, and have a healthy green color. Why haul away all the fertilizer that you’ve paid for? Don’t waste more of your own money by bagging your lawn clippings which is a completely unnecessary process. Leave it on your lawn and not at the local landfill.
The most common misconception that leads to homeowners bagging grass clippings is the thought that clippings contribute to lawn thatch. This could not be any more incorrect. Lawn clippings contribute less than 3% to a lawns thatch layer. The thatch layer is primarily made up of un-decomposed dead stems and roots that become matted. So what causes thatch you might ask? Stressing the lawn is the number one reason for lawn thatch build up. Ok, great you say, so, what stresses the lawn? The primary stressors are cutting your lawn too short or cutting more than one-third of the total height at any one cutting. Our turf lawns are not putting greens. Turf type lawns should be cut around two and one-half inches to three inches in height. Other stressors are too much water, too little water, too much nitrogen fertilizer or too much compaction, all of which can all lead to an unhealthy lawn. Raising the height at which your mower cuts will make your lawn healthier by encouraging deeper roots which, in turn, make your lawn require less water and be more drought resistant. You’ll save water by cutting your turf higher!
Grass clippings are high in nitrogen and mulching them right back into your lawn makes great sense. You can save yourself the back-breaking effort of bagging, you can save the landfills from unnecessary yard waste and you can put those hard earned nutrients right back into your soil. The only time you will need to remove excess clippings is when you let the lawn go uncut and it gets too tall. Bagging your lawn clippings, on average, can add up to 30 percent more time to an already tedious chore. Often the lawn mower is left running while filling the yard waste bags. This adds fuel to the list of items you are wasting…in addition to time, money, paper, etc. etc. If you feel that you must bag your clippings, consider making a compost pile somewhere on your premises.
Yard waste makes up around 20 percent of all waste material at landfills. Also, bagged grass consumes far more energy by the need of large trucks to haul this unnecessary yard waste to the dumps. You can be the envy of your neighbors by being a better educated and responsible steward of your lawn. Your overall lawn will be healthier, your lawn will remain greener longer and you won’t need to work as hard. All of these benefits and you’ll be helping our environment all at the same time. Dump the bag!
First impressions of you or your business begins before anyone sets one foot inside of your door. The quality of your landscape, or lack thereof, will set the tone and opinion of you based upon outside appearances. This is simply human nature. If your home or office appears neat and well maintained, visitors will make an initial assessment that you are a person that takes pride in his or her home or business. Personal opinions might even translate into that you are a successful person and hard-working from this first outdoor impression.
Studies have shown that morale increases in office environments where the outward appearances look attractive, implying pride and success. An unkempt and dingy outside appearance could actually turn away potential customers and highly motivated workers.
Have a landscape design professional evaluate your home or office. Many times simple landscape maintenance techniques will spring new life into an existing landscape. At times, however, some minor changes in plant placement or the removal of an overgrown shrub or tree with be necessary to give a home or office an updated and appealing new look.
Landscapes that have some age, and especially those that have not received proper maintenance over the years may require complete landscape renovation. If you find yourself in this predicament, this is a great opportunity to hire a competent landscape design professional to make the absolute best that your structure and site have to offer. Be the envy of your community with that all important first impression!
Now until April 1, 2010 we are offering a two-hundred dollar certificate towards your landscape services when you sign a contract for a spring clean-up, landscape installation or landscape construction project.
Qualifying projects for the $200.00 certificate include:
- Complete Spring Clean-Ups (we provide all materials and labor)
- Complete Landscape Maintenance
- Landscape Installations (totaling more than $2000.00)
- Landscape Construction Projects such as patios (totaling more than $2000.00)
Projects signed earlier than today’s date, February 11, 2010 are not eligible for this certificate. Projects not listed above are not eligible for this certificate.
Sign up now! This offer ends April 1, 2010!