Archive for August, 2012

Lawn Rehab: How to Save Your Lawn After a Brutal Summer

What does a record breaking warm winter, cool spring and an ungodly hot summer followed by a week of rain do to your yard?  If you’re like most of us, you know that it’s resulted in an unhealthy, washed out lawn; a strange checkerboard of dead patches and enthusiastic crabgrass. 2012’s unusual season pattern was a poisonous elixir for lawns nationwide as it produced an abundance of fungi, Japanese Beatles, dead lawn space and thriving weeds.  While these symptoms of this strange weather pattern might have ruined your grass for this year, here are a few ways you can get a head start for next spring.

While many people assume seeding to be a springtime task, planting grass in early autumn is best.  But before you start pushing your slitseeder, you need to be sure that you’re seeding properly.  First and foremost, you need to be sure that your lawn is prepped for seeding, especially after such an unkind season.   In order for seed to properly grow, it must reach the soil; therefor, it’s necessary to remove all the clumps of dead grass through thatcherizing the lawn.  Effective thatcherization can be done by renting a power rake at a local hardware, and removing the destroyed grass.  Once you’ve opened up those spaces where dead grass once was, your seeds will be able to reach the soil and still receive sunlight.

Similar to thatcherization, the lawn needs to be properly aerated before applying fertilizer, lime and seed.  Once the lawn is aerated and thatcherized, the soil can be fertilized and sprinkled lightly with lime.  If you do choose to fertilize, remember to get a seed starter fertilizer that isn’t not too high in nitrogen.  Also, be sure to make sure there is no weedkiller in the mixture.  If the dirt that you’re planting your grass in is tough, dry and nutrient depleted, you might need to incorporate fresh top soil or peat moss.  Topsoil revamps the nutrients in your soil and peat moss does the same while also serving as protection and providing moisture control.

When you buy seed, don’t just grab the cheapest bag.  Take note of the sun or shade that covers the area you want to replant and consider which seed might be best for your yard.  Be sure to buy shade varieties like Marion Blue or Kentucky Bluegrass for areas that don’t receive much sun, and seeds such as perennial Ryegrass for areas that are sunny and hot.  Two specific grasses that should definitely be avoided in hot and harsh areas are fescue and bluegrass varieties.  These types of grasses perish in heat and would most likely be stuck in your power rake this time next year.

In the instance that your lawn has somehow survived this treacherous season, yet is riddled with insects such as the Japanese Beetle, the purchase of an insecticide might be necessary.  If your grass is a victim of leaf spot, melting out or necrotic ring spot, keeping the grass dry in the evenings and applying a fungicide will likely eliminate your problem.

While you won’t be able to enjoy a lush green lawn for the rest of this year, following these few tips can guarantee a fresh green lawn next spring!



As Summer Blooms End, Autumn Blooms Begin

In the temperate northeast region of the US, the months of May and June are the climax times for garden blooms; However, as petals fall and pistils turns to seed, September and October boast not only vibrant colored leaves, but also a handful of flowers.

1. Chrysanthemum- Informally known as mums, these globe shaped perennials showcase their flowers in mid September and because of their variety, you can add nearly any type of color to your yard.  From April to August, these fall favorites appear as subtle, flowerless glob shaped shrubs.  A nice filler for barren spots and empty corners of the garden, these quiet shrubs will add the most life to your garden in the fall when they are are overtaken by blooms.  Yellow, white, rose, mauve, orange and maroon are the most common colors of mums, while additional uncommon colors such as deep violate and mauve also exist.

2. Sunflowers-  It’s too late to plant sunflowers this year; however, you might be able to find a few on markdown at your local hardware or nursery.  Sunflowers can bloom late into September and are a festive addition to any fence line or sun bleached wall.  A special treat for the birds, these tall and stalky plants provide ample seed for birds before they head south.

3. Marigolds-  Whether you decide to use the French or African version, these festive flowered annuals will add a pop of color to your autumn garden.  Mostly associated as a summer plant, these flowers can bloom well into October and can keep insects away from those late ripening tomatoes or last bushels of basil.  While it may not seem practical to plant an annual for a two month lifespan, August’s heavily discounted prices make it well worth it.  Also, to get a head start for next year, you can save the deadheads of the marigolds and let them seed in your garden early next spring.

4. Dusty Miller-  While fall foliage adds ample colors of red, yellow and orange; dusty miller’s soft silvery leaves can add a striking contrast to the changing leaves in your yard.  Short growing and flowerless, these velvety annuals can last well into a temperate December.  During your quest for other discounted plants, don’t overlook these lacy annuals!

While these are just some of the most common and easily accessible fall plants, there are several others to choose from.  Feel free to browse your local nursery or contact us to see how we can help you design your yard to get the most out of every season!