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Last minute winter lawn care tips

These tips are possibly things you’ve heard or seen before.  In fact, you’ve probably noticed these points in earlier articles on propperlandscaping.com.  You may be asking yourself “Are there any lawn services near me?” or plan to do some things yourself, but reminders are never bad,. So here they are in simple form, to help you with your late-season planning.
1. Don’t cut grass when its wet.  just like getting a haircut, getting grass cut works better when its dry.  The clippings won’t stick to our lawnmower. and the grass blades will spring upright as you drive over them.  If you don’t want to squash the soil into a lump surface for next time, don’t mow when its wet, mow when the lawn is dry.

2. Raking, the easy way: If you’re not fond of raking all afternoon, try to  rake from the outside in, so that you’re not chasing tiny leaf piles.  This way you can direct local leaf/grass debris into local piles, to pick up in a few short trips.

3. Back from a vacation? Don’t just cut the grass height all the way down to your baseline.  Make sure to cut it a little at a time, over a week or two.  Remember, grass doesn’t recover well from savage cuts.

4.  Maintain good edges.  Take some time, now and then, to help clearly define tehe borders of all your landscaping areas.  Plants don’t keep in their boundaries unless you make them, so unless you’re using hard edging, trim between trees and lawn, or lawn and garden, routinely.  Your lawn care will benefit from it.

5. Don’t mow in one direction, in straight lines, all the time.  The yard will develop grooves or lines, and the path of your mower will start to show up.  Stripes aren’t flattering, so you can do this in one of two ways; mow your lawn in a haphazard path, changing it every time, or use a crosshatch method, where you go one direction and then the other direction, 90 degrees opposed.

More to come!  There’s always another lawn service question, so if you have one, feel free to call (or email) and ask.

Tips For Lawn Mowing

Mowing the lawn may seem just as basic as any other stereotypical weekend chore, but in reality, its probably the most important part of your lawn care.  It actually matters when you mow and what you do with the clippings, or even how you mow. So here’s a few tips for doing a better job when you low.
First off, people generally make the same mistakes as everyone else.  Cutting with blunt blades, cutting too infrequently, cutting your grass too short, and bagging the cuttings to throw away.  We’ll go into detail below.

Sharpening mower blades.
Admit it. Flipping your lawn mower on its side and taking a sharpening tool to your grass blade takes effort.  Sometimes we cut corners (no pun intended) and keeping any blade sharp takes doing, and you have to do it on a routine basis.  Just like with scissors, knives, and other tools.   When I first started lawn care, I didn’t keep my lawnmower blades sharp enough, and some people actually never sharpen their lawnmowers.
Why it matters: Blunt mower blades won’t cut well, and when they do cut, they will leave ragged cuts in the grass, which definitely increases your lawn’s susceptibility to disease.  The more diseased your lawn gets the quicker the grasses will die.  This will lead to dead spots, which will leave to further damage when the weather takes advantage of those bad areas.

Here is a tip: find a way to sharpen your lawnmower blades once every 30 mows, or once every 30 hours of use.  At least a few times per season.  Here’s an easy habit: find an extra lawnmower, save the blade, and have that sharpened while your regular mower is in use.  That way you won’t have any down time and you can just swap the sharp blade in, to keep consistent in your lawn maintenance.

Cutting too short.
Not to beat a dead horse, but laziness can lead to another bad habit: cutting grass down way too far.  Some people think that having super short grass is cleaner or better, when the opposite is true.  Longer grass will grow better, because longer blades mean more blade surface to open up to the sun, and it also means more nutrients internally that the plants can hang onto, to aid growth.
Here’s a tip: Don’t cut the grass short.  aim for 3 inches or better, depending on your area (and the season).   Try and simply keep your lawn at a uniform length across the yard, and  don’t overdo it.

 

Cutting too infrequently.
Laziness! It all comes back to laziness, apparently.  So do you know anyone that tends to forget about mowing, and then tries to mow it down to short height in one pass, all at once?  Don’t.  Its a bad idea.  You really want to cut it back down gradually, over time, and here’s why: major cuts rare actually stressful on grasses, and it takes them longer to heal or recover from the damage.
Also if you leave the piles of grass in place after the mow, it can block sunlight and start to choke your grasses.  So here’s a tip: Mow a few times so that you only take off about one third of the grass’s length each time you mow, and give it at least a few days between mows.

Bagging clippings.
People who covet that “golf course” image for their lawns also tend to buy those “bagged” lawnmowers, that collect the clippings so that you can throw them away.  Yes, it seems that disposing of the clippings looks neat and keeps the lawn clean, that’s actually bad.  So avoid that if you can.  Grass clippings don’t cause lawn lifting or buildup of thatch areas, and its actually important to leave grass bits in place, because this helps grass grow.  Grass needs nutrients, and some of those clippings will mulch down underneath and feed your lawn.T This actually goes back to the point of cutting frequently, because nice short clippings will fit between the grass better, versus long clippings.

Tha’s it for now, because there are plenty of articles coming with even more tips to help you, the lawn care hobbyist or lawn maintenance professional.   Hope this helps, and don’t stress out.  Everything is fixable, it just takes a little attention to youru lawn.

Caring for the soil of your lawn

People have a proper pH balance; if the pH is too acidic, or even too alkaline, it will inevitably lead to greater health issues and sickness.  So it is with plants, and if you detect an issue with the health of your lawn, it would b e wise to test the level of the soil first.

What is the ideal pH balance for your soil?  0-14 is the range, where a low reading measures acidity and a high reading measures alkalinity.  So a reading of 7 or lower means acidic, and a reading of 7 or higher means basic, or alkaline.  Plants generally grow best in a range of 6 to 7.
So why would you want to take a soil sample to analyze your lawn and garden?  For plants to survive, they need proper levels of a few basic nutrients.  Everything plants need is found in the earth, but different plants will require slightly different levels of various nutrients.  And a soil test will tell you how much of which nutrients are in your soil.
Its important to know both the pH and the nutrient amounts, because if the pH is wrong, the nutrients may not be as bioavailable to the plants.  So you need to make sure that both the pH levels and nutrient amounts are in the proper range.
Soil tests are not hard to find, and can be obtained from a few different sources: you can find them online, you can order them through the mail, that sort of thing.  But you probably want to check with your county plant people, because they will have the best tests, by far, for your lawn and garden.  These tests will be far more comprehensive than your “garden variety” online tests, so its worth considering paying slightly more, or waiting longer, for the best.  Especially when it comes with suggestions and recommendations for what you can do to improve your soil levels.  This way you will soon find the best soil conditions for your lawn care.

 

Winter Lawn Care: How to Take Care of Your Lawn in the Cold Season

Whether you live in a snowy or a sunny climate, winter is a great period of time to scale back from heavy lawn care to give your plants a period of rest.  Some people just ignore their lawns and turn the sprinklers off, but that’s not exactly the way to go, and it can actually harm your lawn.  Don’t worry, it only takes a few simple steps, so keep reading to learn a little lawn maintenance for the winter.
For starters, you can’t wait until frost sets in before you start to pay attention to your lawn.  The time to begin winter lawn maintenance needs to take place before the season really changes.  First, with each time you mow, lower the blades of your mower once each time.  That way, your grass will slowly become accustomed to surviving at a shorter length by the time its really cold. This will discourage pests from going after your grasses or sheltering in it during the cold months.
Next, before frost sets in, use a lawn aerator to minimize soil compaction.  Distribute  a basic lawn fertilizer over the breadth of your lawn, which will work its way in slowly.  Don’t forget, just like when you mow, when sprinkling fertilizer and aerating, continue to move in a crisscross or “crosshatch” pattern.  This will ensure that you don’t leave weird growth patterns when your lawn comes back in.
More Tips:
Basic maintenance is the key, from this point on, for servicing your lawn.  One thing to do is to sweep, rake, and clear your lawn of all leaves and debris.  This includes lawn furniture, toys, play structures, gazebos, anything.  Anything sitting on your lawn over time can gradually damage or hinder your grasses.  So no parking vehicles on your lawn in the winter months.

If you can remember these basic practices, or have a lawn service take care of them for you every season, it will become second nature to you.  Lawn maintenance doesn’t have to be stressful, but it does have to be consistent, and part of that schedule means changing up your lawn care as the seasons change.

Book Review: The New Lawn

Below is an excerpt from a book titled “The New Lawn”.  I’ll be adding more to this entry as time goes by, because having a little knowledge about lawn seeding can be valuable to anyone cares about lawn maintenance or lawn care.  You don’t need a professional lawn service, per se, to appreciate these tips:

HANDSEEDING AND SOD

The two most common ways to turn prepared soil into a lush green carpet represent the extremes of expense and patience. Sprinkling seeds over the ground is inexpensive, but you’ll have to wait at least two weeks for the seeds to germinate and several more before the area even begins to resemble a lawn.

You can  seed bare spots by hand, but an area larger  than a few hundred square feet calls for a drop spreader or a broadcast spreader. Make two passes at right angles to each other in order to even the application, but don’t waste seed; Spreading more than the seed bag instructions call for won’t make a lawn fill in any faster or grow any better.

(“And use this year’s seed,” says Cook. Last year’s seed might seem a bargain, but may not