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!
Early Planning provides for Full Summer Fun
The daylight hours are short, the temperatures are cold, and the winter snows are upon us. For most people, spring seems like a long way off and landscaping is just about the last thing on their mind! You can chase away those winter blues by beginning to think ahead about springtime patio and landscape projects. Winter is a great time to begin the planning and design process, or maybe just dusting off that set of plans in the closet that took a back seat to other home improvement projects last year.
A well designed landscape can help you create privacy, improve your home’s security, reduce your energy bills, increase your home value, and most importantly, enhance the beauty of your property. Your home is your sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and your landscaping should be a part of that. Your landscaping can bring you a sense of peace and tranquility…a place to relax and “get away from it all”. Best of all, a well designed and installed landscape can help you accomplish all of your goals without creating future maintenance headaches!
As with any renovation project, it is important to begin by consulting a landscape professional. Soil type, sun and wind exposure, and water availability can vary greatly within aresidential development and even between neighboring houses. Each site is unique, and an experienced professional will take all of these factors into consideration. A landscape designer will listen intently to your goals and use his or her plant knowledge to help you develop a plan that fits your personal taste in style, color, and preferences for future maintenance (or lack thereof!).
So, put down that snow shovel, take off your hat and scarf, and call Buck & Sons today to get started on your new landscape plan. There is no better way to get out of the winter doldrums and when the weather finally breaks, you’ll you ready to enjoy summer with your newly enhanced great outdoors!
Rather than sit inside all day, we make productive use of this time with a little winter dormant pruning. With the foliage off of deciduous trees and shrubs, pruning becomes a much quicker and easier process. At no other time of the year is it as easy to see problem branches that are dead, rubbing, crossing or growing inward. Branches that are infringing upon a structure or neighboring tree or shrub should be judiciously pruned so not to adversely affect the overall shape and aesthetic value of the plant. Sometimes, however, removal of a tree or shrub may be the only solution when it has been planted improperly by not allowing adequate room for growth. Your goal in pruning, as always, should be to maintain the natural habit of the plant unless you are maintaining a formal hedge or artistic topiary. Please don’t turn your valuable shrubs into green outdoor boxes. Nothing detracts more from the aesthetic or monetary value of your landscape than improper pruning.
Winter can be a dull and boring time of year. Most of us manage to get a few things accomplished indoors that we had put off during the summer months but seem to leave our out-of-doors “out in the cold”. Yeah… maybe we raked a few leaves but that’s the extent of the care that our greatest outdoor investment gets for the season.
Certain trees and shrubs should not be pruned in the winter months. Trees such as Maple and Birch sap excessively when pruned anytime from late December through early June. Wait until the appropriate time of the year for pruning these tree ‘bleeders’. Spring flowering shrubs such as Lilac, Forsythia, Rhododendron, Azalea and Viburnum set buds in the preceding growing season for flowers the following spring. Your much anticipated blooming plants could easily be ruined for another year if you prune off all of the flower buds. A good rule of thumb is to prune spring flowering shrubs shortly after they have finished blooming. In central Ohio, we try not to prune spring flowering shrubs any later than the end of June. This timing may vary for your region of the country as well as any seasonal or climactic changes during the growing season.
To apply wound dressing or not to apply wound dressing? This is a perennial topic of discussion (sometimes heated) among arborists, nursery growers, landscapers and gardeners. The current “Green Industry” standard and recommendation today is to not apply wound dressing. University and industry studies have indicated that wound dressings can actually hinder the healing process after a pruning wound is sealed with a common dressing. It seems that the outer, active growth ring, also known as the vascular cambium layer becomes obstructed making the healing process more difficult for your tree or shrub. If you absolutely do feel you need to apply a wound dressing, try to apply inside of this outer growth ring. For the most part however, your efforts are simply cosmetic in nature and it may be best to use your money for a new tree, shrub or perennial if any damage or extensive pruning is required.
So…pick out a nice, pleasant winter day and grab your sharpened and cleaned pruning tools. Proper pruning techniques will add beauty and longevity to your plants. Your plants will increase in their beauty and functionality as well as increasing the value of your property. If you are unsure as to proper pruning techniques, there are several books available or garden clubs you could join. You of course can always contact professional landscape service firms that have experienced horticulturists that are Ohio Certified Landscape Technicians. Be sure to ask if they have these technicians employed.