Category Archives: Lawn Gardening

Aerating lawn

Aeration and Your Lawn

If you notice your lawn is not accepting water as well as it used to it may be time to aerate it. Aeration bores holes into the lawn that allows for water and air circulation. If you’re not sure whether your lawn needs aeration you can cut a section of grass out to determine.  Cut the patch about 5-6 inches deep. If the grass roots do not exceed growth of two inches then your lawn should be aerated.

In the few days leading up to lawn aeration you should heavily water your lawn – about 1 inch of water should be applied.

There are a few ways that you can aerate – one is manually and one is mechanically. Manual aerators are available in various forms – spikes that can be applied to the wheels of a tractor, lawn aerator shoes, or even a pitchfork. Mechanically there are expensive machines that are able to aerate your lawn by physically removing portions (plugs of about two inches deep and a quarter inch wide) of the lawn. Aeration machines are available for rent from a local hardware store on an hourly basis.

We recommend aerating your lawn in two passes to ensure enough perforations are made. Once you are finished aerating your lawn you can apply moisture and fertilizer to the lawn.

Fertilizer

Fertilizer and Your Lawn

Fertilizer applied to your lawn allows the soil to feed the grass and create a healthy, lush green covering. There are two schools of thought for fertilizing – synthetic and organic. Synthetic fertilizer feeds the grass while stripping the soil of its nutrients. Organic fertilizer feeds the soil but takes longer to work because it employs from the bottom up, unlike synthetic, which works from the top down.

Most lawns need to be fed at least 4 times per year – April, late May, August, and October. Use an organic fertilizer, like Ringer® Lawn Restore® Fertilizer to work with your soil and grass to create a thick, lush lawn that is drought and disease resistant. A fertilizer like this will feed your lawn only when needed and treats it without using synthetic chemical that disrupts the natural growth process of your lawn.

To learn more about fertilizing your lawn check out this Love Your Yard blog post!

Lawn Pests and Diseases

Throughout the season you may notice that areas of your lawn are not as vibrant as others. You may be experiencing an issue where insects or disease are affecting your grass and its ecosystem. The following are pests and diseases you should watch for:

Grubs – grubs are the larval stage of beetles and feed on grass roots. One of the first signs of a grub problem is an influx of birds and sometimes lawn or garden damage from rooting or tunneling of skunks, raccoons, opossums, moles and other animals. Safer® Brand Grub Killer can be applied to your lawn and will quickly resolve your grub issue.

Rust – there are over 5,000 known species of rust that can affect plants and lawn and is typically brownish-yellow to bright orange in color. Rust is comprised of spores that spread easily from one area of your lawn to another. Safer® Brand Garden Fungicide alleviates a rust issue.

Powdery Mildew –a white or grey substance that, if left untreated, can take over a large area of your lawn. Safer® Brand Garden Fungicide can be applied to problem areas for treatment.

Anthracnose – a fungal blight that causes reddish-brown areas on your lawn ranging from 2 inches to 10 feet in width. Using a product such as Safer® Brand Garden Fungicide will prevent further spread and eliminate the leaf spot all together.

Monitoring how much water your lawn is receiving will help you with issues related to mold – anthracnose, powdery mildew, rust, and more. Although we cannot determine how much rain the lawn will get we do need to be cognizant of watering habits. Make sure your lawn does not take more than 1 inch of manually applied water weekly to help avoid a breeding ground for bacteria.

Grass

Grass Varieties to Try!

Think grass is just grass? Think again! We’ve gathered up a few of our favorite grass varieties that we think you should try!

Generally speaking, there are two categories of grass – cool-season grass and warm-season grass. Cool-season grass is adapted to northern climates where peak growing occurs in the spring and fall but turn brown in hot summers. Most often cool-season grass seed is sold as a mixture of varieties in the event that one type doesn’t root well another will.

Warm-season grasses grow best in Southern hot summers while the spring and fall create a dormant environment for them. This grass type is more dense than its cool-season counterparts and is mostly laid as a sod rather than grown from seeds.

Depending on where you live there are certain grasses that will fare better than others. Here are a few of our favorite varieties:

Bluegrass – a cooler northern area favorite, bluegrass thrives on sunlight, good soil and a regular water supply.

St. Augustine – warm climates featuring sandy soil grow this blue-green variety well.

Bermuda – highly weed resistant and draught tolerant, the Bermuda variety can serve well in the winter when overseeded with rye.

Buffalo – a native to North America, this grass is draught-resistant.

Thatch

Your Lawn’s Soil Health

Your lawn’s soil health is key. If your lawn is suffering from brown patches, sparse or irregular growth, or pale grass there are a few things you can do to help encourage a healthier developing process. The soil beneath your grass creates an ecosystem for your lawn to grow and when you do too little, or too much, to that ecosystem you can cause an imbalance.

An unhealthy lawn can often be contributed to thatch, or the layer of dead grass and grass roots that has accumulated on top of the soil surface, generally a result of over-fertilizing. A thick layer of thatch blocks airflow, nutrient movement, and moisture retention, but it isn’t necessary to remove all thatch. A thin layer provides protection to the healthy grass’s roots while a thick layer cuts off the roots’ lifeline.

If your lawn has a thin layer of thatch there is an easy do-it-yourself remedy. Using a steel-tine rake you can rake your lawn vigorously to reduce the thatch accumulation. A lawn with a dense layer of thatch will benefit best from using a dethatching machine. Your local lawn service or hardware store can help you determine which is best for your situation. After dethatching you will want to decrease the number of fertilizing treatments you apply to your lawn.

Mint

Consider These Ground Covers!

Get creative this gardening season by mixing up your choice of ground covers. Ivy may be a classic, as are pachysandra and clover, but mixing it up by adding an unexpected touch of mint, strawberries, or winter wheat could give your garden a whole new feel!

Mint – Plant mint in the spring or fall when the fear of frost is over. There are two planting options generally used for mint – one to contain the plant while the other allows it to expand. When planting you will want to select an area with partial shade or full sun, and plant with a fertile, composted soil.

Strawberries – Strawberry plants are low maintenance, but do like lots of sunshine. Plant your strawberry plants about two feet apart. When plants reproduce they do so with “runners,” or a vine growing from the plant that takes hold in the soil. Because strawberries bear a huge harvest you will want to continuously pick the fruits and be able to do so easily, so consider ease of access to these plants.

Winter Wheat – Winter wheat is a crop planted in the fall that sprouts before freezing occurs and then remains dormant until soil warms in early spring. This time frame allows for good root development: plant too early and your plants could be susceptible to late summer insects, plant too late and the plants may not overwinter well.

Winter wheat can be planted in rows like crops and should be rototilled into the soil about 2.5 inches deep. The heads of the wheat stalks will become heavy with grains and will lean toward the ground when they are full.

To see if they are ready to harvest you can test a few grains yourself. Chew a few grains from your plant to see what their consistency is. Soft and doughy grains are premature and need more time to mature. Continually check the grains until they are firm and crunchy at which time you can harvest your crops. To harvest your winter wheat simply cut off the heads of the stems.

Garden Mulch

Mulching 101

When we think of the word mulch we tend to envision brown, bark-like material applied to a flowerbed, but did you know mulch exists in many forms? Let’s explore why mulch benefits your gardens and what options are available for your home and budget.

Applying mulch to your garden reduces weed growth, which will have a beneficial impact on your plants. Weeds deplete soil of nutrients and moisture when they grow and therefore limit the supply to the plants you want in your garden. They also have the ability to choke the root systems of your plants and cause them to die.

Water evaporation is slowed significantly from soil when mulch is applied. Watering a flowerbed that is mulched will result in up to 50% less evaporation than one that is uncovered. Mulch that is applied shortly after new plantings can increase the ground’s moisture and promote healthier root growth.

Various types of mulch are available for your garden. You may be familiar with:

  • Shredded bark mulch – an inexpensive and easy-to-find option
  • Pine bark nuggets – does not break down as easily as other mulches, but also don’t stay in place as well
  • Wood chips – often a free option from local tree trimmers. Be sure to find out if the source tree had poison ivy to prevent infecting your garden.
  • Cocoa hull mulch – A fine texture and rich color make this non-fading mulch a favorite for gardeners, although it is one of the most expensive
  • Did you also know you can use alternative natural materials as mulch? Consider using:
  • Grass clippings – a cheap and readily available material
  • Decaying leaves – helps to retain more moisture than average mulch
  • Compost – a material that will supply your garden with an abundance of healthy nutrients as it breaks down
  • Hay – although cheap and easy to apply, it is less ornamental than other mulch options
  • Rubber (shredded reusable materials) – extremely long lasting but does not provide any nutrients to the soil
  • Decorative Stone – a very long-lasting option that also holds heat or stays cold much longer than alternative mulch materials

Whether you use a traditional or nonconventional material for mulching your garden, your plants will appreciate you taking steps to keep them well-watered. With benefits like less weeds and a more uniformed looking garden, what are you waiting for? Get started this weekend!

composting

Composting 101


Composting, nature’s recycling process, converts your old scraps and “natural trash” into a nutrient rich treat for your garden. In addition to providing a nutrient boost to soil, compost helps combat plant disease. There are a few ways you can add to your compost pile, and one is by using your old, dead plants.

Dead plants can be thrown away or they can continue serving your purpose by being composted. Compost needs a good mixture of “green stuff” and “brown stuff.” Green stuff is high in nitrogen and is the heating agent for your compost and gets the mixture cooking. The brown stuff, which is high in carbon, helps the compost break down. Dead plants, fall leaves, and dead weeds all serve well for compost.

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Fertilizing Your Lawn 101

Going green isn’t just a trend; it is a lifestyle option that is here to stay. You may use ready-to-use organic products to protect your plants from insects and plant disease, but do you apply the same “all natural” methods to your lawn care? A lot of lawn enthusiasts balk when it comes to using organic fertilizers on their grass because it seems complicated, but it is much more simple than you think!

Let’s review the steps of growing an organic lawn:

  1. Testing
  2. Composting
  3. Mowing
  4. Watering
  5. Weeding

Step 1. Testing – Skip this step at your lawn’s peril!  Testing doesn’t have to be hard, you can use one of the do it yourself kits or your local ag extension service.  Lawn professionals also offer this service.  Grass flourishes at soil pH levels between 6.5 and 7.0.   If your soil is alkaline (above 7.0) add sulfur or iron to balance it.  If it is too acidic 9below 6.5) add lime to balance the soil.

Step 2. Composting – Adding a spring and fall topdressing of compost to your yard will make an incredible difference. The additional minerals and beneficial microbes will improve your soil. Need help getting started with composting? Ringer® Compost Plus is a great starter product for those interested in keeping their own compost.  If you do not compost, Ringer Lawn Restore is a great alternative.  It is nutrient rich and packed with beneficial microbes to help make your lawn draught and disease resistant.

Step 3. Mowing – Shaded soil keeps weeds from germinating and better holds moisture. Help your lawn’s soil by keeping your mower settings high, at 3 inches tall, and leave your grass clippings on the lawn.

Step 4. Watering – We’ve got good news for you! Your lawn only needs about 1 inch of water a week and the soil benefits from drying out between waterings. Try watering your lawn earlier in the day so it has time to dry out before cooler evening temperatures. A lawn that is damp for a period of time could develop fungal issues.

Step 5. Weeding – Your lawn should be full of grass, not weeds, so take a measure of prevention. Corn gluten meal is an organic material that is extremely effective for dandelion control and crab grass. Concern® Weed Prevention Plus should be applied to your yard in early spring and again in the fall.  It prevents weed seedlings from taking root, solving weed problems before they start!

Having an organically treated lush, full, green lawn is easier to achieve than you may think! Products are available to help you create the yard of your dreams and our experts are available to answer your questions. Tweet us or join us on Facebook to continue the organic lawn conversation!

Design & Decorating Tips

Decorating with outdoor plants is a great way to introduce visual interest and a personal, creative touch to your home. The variety of shapes, the range of color, and the natural textures of living elements make your design choices as unique as they are limitless.

Using Containers
Container planters, available in a wide variety of styles, shapes and sizes, offer you a wide range of design versatility. Choose containers that will complement the landscaping design style of your outside space.

Think about using eco-friendly, all natural coco liners. They make great container liners, particularly for wire and metal planters, stands and hanging baskets. They keep Continue reading