Category Archives: Lawncare

What You Need To Know To Eliminate Weeds From Your Garden

Here’s a good article on ridding your yard of weeds by Andreas Beck for Better Homes & Gardens.

Wild plants that pop up where you don’t want them can be tough to control. Fortunately, there are plenty of tips and tricks that will help you get rid of these leafy invaders naturally.

It’s hard to have compassion for weeds, but they’re just plants growing in places where they’re not wanted (some weeds are even edible!). Consider trying this philosophy: If you like it, it’s a flower; if you don’t, it’s a weed. That said, it’s perfectly reasonable to not want weeds mingling with your vegetables and perennial plants. To tackle them effectively without resorting to toxic chemicals, you need some hard-hitting strategies, a few quality tools, and an understanding of the different weed types you’re likely to encounter. Then, you’ll need to keep on top of them throughout the growing season: Persistence pays off. And the activity of weeding can even be therapeutic.

Types of Weeds

Some weeds produce enormous quantities of seeds, and while they’re easy to pull or hoe, new ones quickly appear to take their place. Other types of weeds have the ability to sprout new plants from small pieces of root or stem left behind after you pull them. And then you have wily weeds like the mighty dandelion, which combines the best (or worst) of both types. Once you get to know all these types of weeds, you’ll be able to use the most effective techniques for keeping them under control.

Annuals

Pretty much all weeds make seeds (which is one way they can spread), but annuals such as galinsoga and lamb’s quarters only have a year to live. They can be trickier than other weeds because they’ll cover the ground with seeds. To get rid of them, through early spring and summer, frequently draw a hoe through the soil to disrupt tiny germinating seeds. If you can, dig or pull annual weeds before they have the chance to develop seeds. If you can’t pull them without damaging other garden plants, cut the stems at or below the soil to prevent them from regrowing.

Taprooted

The key to fighting taproots is to get all of their long, strong roots out of the soil. Perennials such as dandelions can regrow from any part of their root left in the soil, while biennials such as bull thistle will die after blooming in their second year. Plunge a straight, pointed trowel or dandelion digger down right next to the root to help pry it out. You can also use a flat garden spade for large, deep taproots.

Rhizomatics

These weeds can be hard to control because they have horizontal stems called rhizomes that resprout when they’re cut. For weeds like stinging nettle, witchgrass, and quackgrass, use a trowel, claw, or spading fork to loosen the soil around these weeds. The rhizomes will be easier to pull out and less likely to break and leave pieces behind that can resprout.

Toughies

These weeds, including chickweed, plantain, and dock, like to grow in hard, compacted soil. It takes strength to pull them out, so an oscillating stirrup hoe is your best friend for dealing with them. Its sharp, horizontal blade swings back and forth as you work the soil, giving it even more power. This will help loosen up the soil around these stubborn weeds, making them easier to tug out.

Monsters

Aggressive weeds, including Japanese knotweed and bindweed, can feel impossible to eliminate because of their deep, vigorous roots. If your yard gets taken over by them (or any other weed), try starving them of light. Move any plants you want to keep to another area, then closely mow the weedy part of your yard. Cover the weeds with sturdy tarps and weigh them down, then wait until all the plants underneath are dead.

Weeding Tips and Techniques

Spreading a 2-inch-thick layer of mulch over the soil in planting beds helps prevent seeds from germinating and makes those that emerge easier to remove. The best time to tackle most weeds is right after irrigating or a rainfall. It’s easiest to pull or dig them out in their entirety when the ground is soft. To avoid feeling overwhelmed, focus on a small space every day and rotate throughout your garden. It’s certainly easier to face weed control in small increments than it is to face weeding your entire yard all at once.

After weeds are pulled or dug out, you can leave them on the ground to shrivel (best to do on a sunny day) so they are lighter to haul away later. Some extra vigorous garden weeds can grow back or go to seed if left where they are, so make sure to completely remove them once you head inside again. Because most home compost piles don’t get hot enough to kill seeds, it’s best to discard weeds in your regular trash or with other yard waste.

The Best Weeding Tools

Your hands are often the best all-purpose weeding tools, but when you need a little more power, try one of these.

  • Cutting and scraping tools work best for sliding behind and beneath weeds to chop stems from roots. Use angled triangular blades to weed cracks and crevices.
  • Fishtail or taproot weeders have a V-shape tip on the end of a long tool that you slip on either side of a weed stem (such as a dandelion) to pry the root from the soil.
  • Digging knives (also called hori-horis) are versatile tools that can dig holes, divide perennials, dig taproot weeds, and scrape weed seedlings from the soil. Keep it sharp for the best results.
  • Oscillating hoes have sharp-edge stirrup-shape blades and long handles. Eradicate weeds by moving the blade back and forth in the soil. These work well in a vegetable garden when you want to sever young weeds between rows.

Dethatching

 

Here’s a good article from the Editors of Landscape on dethatching to make your lawn beautiful.

Thatch is the term used in modern landscaping for the organic material buildup between living grass and the soil’s surface. This buildup is composed mainly of the roots and stems of lawn grasses, which tend to break down more slowly than they build up. While manageable in lower quantities, a thatch buildup of excessive depth (greater than ½ inch) will inhibit grass root development as well as provide a breeding ground for lawn pests. Excessive watering and fertilizing are major causes of thatch buildup due to the lawn’s speedy growth. New grass grows much more quickly than dead grass can be broken down by natural processes in such lawns. This can cause the new lawn grass to root into the thatch rather than the soil, depriving it of important nutrients and potentially causing drainage problems.

In order to combat the myriad of threats posed by thatch buildup, homeowners must first keep a close eye on their fertilization and watering habits. Remember that aggressive growth can also lead to aggressive thatch buildup, so try to strike a balance between lush coverage and thatch presence. If thatch reaches problematic levels—as evidenced by grass tearing up by the root quite easily—core aeration can help alleviate the problem. Core aerators are machines that pull up small cores of soil to leave behind plug-like holes. Cored soil can then be covered with a thin layer of organic material (topdressing) to assist in breaking down the excess thatch. Soil cores remaining on the surface of the lawn accelerate thatch breakdown. Core aeration also helps to correct drainage and compaction issues.

When considering whether to dethatch their landscape, homeowners need to be aware of a few principles. First, dethatching places a good deal of stress on the lawn. Core aeration and dethatching machines are aggressive practices. Lawns typically need a recovery period of thirty to fifty days of relatively mild weather in order to regenerate. Severe weather during this time can be extremely detrimental to the recovery process and may damage large swaths of the landscape. DIY landscapers should keep an eye on their weather reports to gather an idea of when to dethatch most effectively. Much also depends on the variety of grass used in the lawn—some varieties grow best cool weather while others prefer warmth. Homeowners need to prepare themselves by learning as much as possible about their particular variety of grass, preferably prior to the initial seeding. Choose a variety that will not produce much thatch. If DIY landscapers are working in a pre-existing lawn, ask questions at the local plant nursery or garden center regarding the correct thatching timeframe for your variety.

 

 

 

The Best Hydrangeas From The Better Homes & Gardens Test Garden

Here’s a good article on the best hydrangeas by Jennifer Aldrich for Better Homes & Gardens.

These versatile shrubs can’t be beat for their big, long-lasting flowers. Here are the most beautiful varieties we’ve been trying out.

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5 Trending Landscape Design Ideas That Will Give You the Best Yard On The Block

Here’s a good article from 2020 on landscape ideas for the best back yard on the block by Lauren Phillips for Real Simple.

The concept of spending time outdoors on a daily basis is getting more and more popular, and people are paying more attention to the quality of their landscape design ideas and outdoor spaces, whether they’re patios, porches, rooftops, or traditional yards and gardens. The appeal of a well-groomed, curated outdoor space—for a backyard party, a starlight soiree, or any other open-air occasion—is almost universal, but as with anything else, trends come and go.

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Diary Of A First-Time Gardener: Tackling A Front Yard Makeover

Here’s an informative article on front yard makeovers by Ashley Goldman for Better Homes & Gardens.

With big garden dreams but almost no experience, a homeowner learns by doing as she transforms the landscaping in front of her Southern California property.

Five years ago, my husband, Ross, and I bought our first home, a Craftsman-style bungalow in San Diego. The 1915 house was charming but needed work inside and out. As a home blogger who loves old houses, I had a pretty good sense of what I wanted to do with the interior. But as a novice gardener on a budget, redoing the front yard that was filled with concrete scraps, overgrown weeds, and neglected plants would be stepping into the unknown. I did have a sense of my starting point, however: Being in the middle of drought-plagued Southern California, I wanted a beautiful, sustainable garden that could survive on little water and would benefit our environment. With those goals in mind, I forged ahead, determined to learn everything I could about plants and to give my front yard a makeover within a year.

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Fall Lawn-Care Secrets You Should Know For Growing The Healthiest Grass

Here’s a good article on lawn care by the BH&G Garden Editors for Better Homes & Gardens.

Take advantage of cool fall weather to fertilize, control weeds, and improve the health and appearance of your yard. A little work now will pave the way for a lush, green carpet when temperatures warm up again in spring.

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A Very Rocky Obsession

Here’s a good article by Scott Beuerlein on rock gardens for Garden Rant.

Back when the gardening bug really hit me, we were raising two kids and watching our dollars. Or, at least watching the few we acquired being whisked off to creditors. We had no extra money around to buy soil, plants, mulch, or anything else. Yet, I was obsessed, and I kept starting new garden beds.

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How To Care For Your Lawn During A Drought

Here’s an informative article by Danielle Sen in Australia on tips on lawn care during a drought for Lifestyle.

As level 1 water restrictions hit Sydney, here’s how to care for your lawn while cutting down on water consumption.

From Saturday, 1st June, Sydney has been offically places on level 1 water restrictions. This means no watering of lawns between 10am and 4pm, hoses must be fitted with trigger nozzles and sprinklers are no longer allowed to be used.

If you don’t want your lawn to suffer, Steve Burt from My Home Turf has this advice to help you care for your lawn during water restrictions:

Water wisely

“When watering is an issue, you want to make sure you’re getting the most from your water,” he says.

“Water early in the morning for about 15 minutes so the lawn can absorb the moisture more effectively. Alternately, water parts of the lawn that are most in need (drying out more) or the areas you want to stay green,” says Steve.

Mowing

There’s a knack to retaining moisture when you’re mowing.

“Keep the mower cutting height as high as possible so the lawn retains all the moisture that it can,” advises Steve. “Keep your blades sharp, as blunt ones tend to rip the lawn, leaving it with jagged leaf edges, which dry out quickly and turn brown.”

Wetting agents

“Moisture retention agents are a secret weapon and the most underrated products on the lawn market and should be in every garden shed” says Steve.

“They are easy to click onto your hose and can cover an area up to 150 square metres. During a dry spell or a drought, use a moisture retention agent every four or five weeks to extend your watering and make it more effective,” he explains.

De-thatching

Steve recommends de-thatching to help the lawn absorb moisture.

“Thatching is the accumulation of dead organic matter and is nothing to be concerned about, however de-thatching during a drought aids more water to penetrate into a lawn,” he says. “Aerating your lawn can also aid in delivering more water directly into the root system.”

Reduce foot traffic

Keeping off the grass will do you a world of good as it will protect the lawn.

“The weight from the foot traffic compacts the soil making it harder for the lawn’s roots to penetrate soil moisture. An overall reduction in lawn traffic will help it spring back to life more effectively once the drought is over,” explains Steve.

If you’re about to put in a new lawn…

“The drought tolerance of lawns refers to a lawn type’s ability to stay alive and remain green for the longest period of time, while under water restrictions, or when receiving no water at all during summer,” says Steve.

“Equally as important when considering the drought tolerance of a lawn variety is the ability of a lawn to recover itself once it has finally browned-off. Meaning that once the lawn looks like it has died-off from lack of water, it will recover and become green again once it begins receiving water,” he explains.

If you’re looking at replacing your turf, Steve advises Zoysia – a type of lawn that has a very high ability to remain green and stay alive for longer under water restrictions and summer heat.

“Often sold as Native Nara or Empire, Zoysia has a very good ability to recover after drought conditions have ended. This is due to the fact that Zoysia has underground runners to support the lawn,” says Steve. “Zoysia grass types are an excellent choice for homes which face water restrictions combined with summer heat and is less aggressive than some other grass types and requires only low overall maintenance.”

 

Practical Lawn Care Tips For Summer

Here’s a good article on lawn care tips for summer by the staff at Hidden Creek Landscape.

When summer arrives, many homeowners look for tips on how to care for their lawns. Fortunately, most grasses are surprisingly resilient, despite their delicate appearance and structure. Therefore, when proper lawn care methods are used, property owners can keep their landscapes looking lush and beautiful even during hot weather.

Obviously, all lawns should be watered on a regular basis when temperatures are warm. However, there are many other summer tips that can also be used to ensure a beautiful lawn is maintained.

Aerate. Homeowners should buy or rent an aerator, which is a device used to punch holes in a yard or lawn. This creates a direct line through which moisture and nutrients can reach the lawn’s root system. Aerating once a month is recommended by most lawn experts.

Fertilize. Following approximately 14 days of watering, a broadcast spreader should be used to apply a balanced fertilizer. However, homeowners should avoid high nitrogen fertilizers, as these could have a detrimental effect on the lawn if extended heat waves occur during summer.

Eliminating Lawn Traffic. It is always a good idea to keep lawn traffic to a minimum. This is because the weight of such activity compacts the soil, which in turn makes it difficult for the grass to absorb moisture.

Weeds. Killing weeds is an essential step in keeping grass beautiful and strong. When weeds are eliminated, more nutrients and moisture are made available to the grass. As the healthy lawn thickens, it will grow stronger and eventually begin to crowd out the weeds on its own.

Chinch Bugs. It is important to stay on the lookout for chinch bugs, which typically appear in the front yard near sidewalks and driveways. If a spreading area of dead, dry grass is noticed, the entire front yard should be treated with an insecticide specifically made for chinch bugs.

Sharpen Mower Blades. It is also wise to regularly sharpen mower blades. This is because the cleaner the cut, the less stress put on the grass during mowing. Keeping an attractive lawn during hot, sunny weather can be a challenging endeavor, but with the tips outlined above and the services of a professional lawn care company when necessary, virtually any individual can maintain a beautiful property.

When Should I Plant Grass Seed in My Yard?

Here’s an informative article on when to plant grass seed by Hidden Creek Landscaping.

Few things beat the feeling of cool grass underneath our bare feet. When it comes to starting a lawn from scratch, though, the best time to plant grass seeds in Ohio is late summer to early fall – mid-August to early October.

In this issue, the landscaping experts with Hidden Creek Landscaping will talk more about the process of planting grass seed, how to select the right type and how long it will take for your grass seeds to grow.

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