Welcome to Spring 2016
I would like to thank you, my customers, for your business in 2015. I do not take your patronage for granted…it truly is very much appreciated. I am looking forward to taking care of your lawn and landscapes again this year and beyond.
Since the season is just around the corner, I would like to review the weather we experienced last year, since it does have an effect on the success or failure of your lawn and shrubs.
The season started out with below normal temperatures and rainfall for the most part. Temperatures and rainfall leveled out in May, June, and early July, and then we had an extended hot and dry spell well into the fall. This resulted in turf damage that required as little as some simple seeding and aeration to complete fall renovations. The majority of the damage could have been avoided if the lawns had been properly watered. As the season was winding down, we saw above normal temperatures and rainfall in November and December.
Established trees and shrubs planted 3 or more years ago for the most part survived, newer plants not so well without supplemental watering.
Information regarding proper watering guidelines is left with each service. It is important that they be followed to ensure plants stay healthy.
Now, to get ready for spring, there are a few things that you should do now before the season begins.
1. Does your lawn mower, string trimmer, blower or other power equipment need a tune up? Arrangements to have your equipment serviced should have been scheduled in January or February, not March. If you have not done so, you will want to do it now, as most shops get overwhelmed at that time and you could easily find yourself waiting 3 to 4 weeks to get your stuff back.
2. If you do your own equipment maintenance, make sure the blade is sharpened, or install a new one if it has been damaged. Also, change the oil and spark plug as well as giving it a good cleaning if you did not do that at the end of the season. Check that you have the proper height set. Do not rely on the settings on the mower. While the mower is on a level surface, use a ruler and measure to the bottom of the deck. You will then need to add ¼", since the blade sits up that far in the deck. This is your “true cutting height”. Adjust your settings accordingly to achieve the proper cutting height.
3. If you have an underground irrigation system, make sure to have your system set up and ready to go by April. Here again, wait until warm weather hits, and you may find yourself waiting several weeks for service. Once opened up and working properly, you can leave the system off until needed without the worry.
4. Check the start and run times once your system is ready. Most irrigation contractors will set your system to a generic schedule that could be completely wrong for your lawn. If in doubt, contact me and I can help set up the proper watering times.
5. If you were contemplating on having an underground irrigation system installed, please contact me. I can give you the names of a few companies that I have used in the past. Whether you use an automated or a manual system, always refer to the watering guidelines that are left after each service.
You are now ready for the season. Now what? The most important thing to do is make sure your lawn is cleaned up prior to your first application. Removing debris that has become embedded in the turf will go a long way to getting it ready for the season. Using a rake or blower to dislodge the debris is the best way. Set your mower to around 2”. This will be an easy way to pick up the debris, as well as help your lawn come out of dormancy quicker? This needs to be done prior to your first application.
Do not do any heavy raking once your application has been done, unless absolutely necessary. Doing so will most likely cause issues with crabgrass later in the year. Please contact me once the lawn has been cleaned up and ready for your first application.
Raise your cutting height to 3” and continue to bag your grass for the next couple of cuttings, so as to pick up any leftover debris. After that, raise your mower up to the highest setting. The turf varieties in most lawns-predominately Turf Type Tall Fescue-do best at being cut at 4” to 4.5”. If at all possible, try to return the clippings to the lawn. Doing so will return nutrients back to the soil and as a result, less fertilizer will be needed over the course of the season.
Avoid leaving clumps though, as this will only cause problems, not to mention be unappealing. Contrary to what you may have read or heard grass clippings do not contribute to thatch build up.
Pruning of over grown shrubs or trees should be done soon, if they were not pruned last fall. Roses should be cut back now as should most evergreens, so as to take full advantage of the spring growth period. Flowering shrubs such as Azaleas, Rhododendrons, Forsythia, etc., should be pruned within a month after blooming. These shrubs begin to set buds for next season soon after blooming.
Take a visual inspection of your trees. If they need pruning, now is the time to have that done before they leaf out. You should contact an arborist before they get booked up if your trees need to be pruned.
Be sure to clean out debris from your shrub beds. If you are adding new mulch, you should either breakup the old mulch, or remove it if there is more than 3 inches present. When mulching, you should apply approximately 2 to 3 inches at the most. Excess mulch, particularly if applied right against the stem or trunk of landscape plants, leads to conditions that are favorable for disease and insect activity.
Finally, if you do have an irrigation system, do not over water the beds. Established plants do not need as much water, and can even die from overwatering. If possible, make sure the shrub beds have their own separate zone and only water when absolutely necessary.
Should you have any questions, concerns, or if you just need help regarding how you should prepare your lawn and landscape for the upcoming season, please contact me. I can suggest a few ideas or contractors that can do the work for you.