Compost tea makes an excellent, safe alternative to fertilizers and other products which should not be used near lakes, streams, or rivers.
Archive for the ‘Fertilizer’ Category
Spring is officially here so take advantage of our spring lawn care special for a limited time to help your grass recover from snow mold and winter damage.
For just $99 we will give your lawn a generous portion of natural fertilizer and apply premium high calcium lime up to 10,000 square feet! Save your spring weekend for family fun.
For more information or to just schedule this wonderful spring special, give us a call or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Before you spend lots of money on “do it yourself” lawn care products this spring in NH, get a free lawn estimate that can save you both money and time. April sweeps into NH as the dying remains of winter and departs with the sweet taste of spring like a gift to be unwrapped. The end of March heralds the true beginning of the lawn season with lots of TV commercials and newspaper advertisements touting the latest in grass greening technology. The good news, there is plenty of time to act smart and responsibly in achieving a healthy lawn or landscape. The bad news, lots of confusion caused by companies that claim to have the best products or service for the “do it yourself” market.
But hold on, feeding your lawn is a bit more complicated when you arrive at the hardware store to find lots of bags similar to types of cereal. Oh where to begin? They all look so nice, full, and fulfilling. Pretty colors and green grass on the bag cover just says success from first sight. Do you opt for the organic whole wheat version fertilizer or do the Cocoa Crisps beckon your devotion to lawn improvement? Some materials require specific timing and other materials will only target specific pests or weeds. What is your lawn size anyway? Experience tells me that most folks, like the big fish that got away, believe their lawn is usually bigger than reality. The bags will tell you how much they treat, but what about different application rates? It must be better to go on the heavy side? Are you sure?
Lawn care products in the hardware store often have different application rates and that does not even count what the bag is claiming to control. Perhaps grubs, crabgrass, broadleaf weeds, all of the above? Oh my, this is complicated. How much to put on my lawn that is probably smaller than I think, and I don’t know what grass types I have and if I put down too much…is that my lawn burning?
Who doesn’t love dark green stripes on a pale lawn?! Yeah, it’s a zebra lawn, what fun! All the neighbors get to see how you missed fertilizing sections and not for days, but weeks and months! “Oh the pain” you say like Dr. Smith from the 60’s TV show Lost in Space. Why bother you say? Exactly, this is where a professional lawn company can take all that pain, wasted time and money, frustration, and turn you lawn into a carpet of green gold awaiting your use and enjoyment this year. If you figure in your valuable weekend time, the cost of the products you purchase, application mistakes, storage, purchasing wrong materials, and having missed the window of effective pest control, then yes, a professional is going to save you money and time.
So before you are hypnotized by TV or newspaper advertisements and cause more harm than good, call a local professional and get yourself a free estimate this spring from a reputable local lawn care provider. “Feed it” the right way, the smart way.
Most can agree that there are certainly some basics to really providing visible improvement in lawns, from color, to density, or reduced weeds. If there was an overall wish list for lawn treatments, a list which highlighted the best of the best, the hardest working, the biggest bang for your buck; would you be interested? I thought so.
Without question, fertilizer is at the top of the list for several reasons. First, grass appreciates the additional nutrient supply in order to improve color and increase growth both above and below ground. You can serve up your fertilizer varying from slow release, all organic, a natural blend, or a conventional fast release product. Each type of fertilizer has its advantages and disadvantages depending upon how fast you are trying to improve your lawn, your proximity to surface water/wells, or disposition for organic things in life. The underlying focus of fertilizer is simple; give the lawn a boost to make it healthier by growing better than surrounding weeds. This is where fertilizer needs some additional help in our wish list for the most beneficial lawn treatments for your money.
It may go without saying, but lime is not what your grandfather used to use back in the day. In fact, lime has been formulated to address more than just a simple pH adjustment. Since grass appreciates a slightly acidic pH (6.5 to 6.7) for maximum health, what else can lime do that you may not know? I prefer a high calcium lime, pelletized for easy application and loaded with calcium to help improve the cation exchange in the soil. Cation what you say? Well, simply put – a high calcium lime actually helps soften soils, it’s a natural material to improve soil structure and this in turns makes growing roots a lot easier. More roots, better lawn, thicker lawn! Lime and fertilizer go together like peanut butter and jelly; they are good friends and do a lot for the dollar spent.
The third lawn application that is underrated but is more valuable than people realize is core aeration. Yes, core aeration is a form of dethatching so don’t get too excited. Core aeration is probably the single most beneficial non-chemical, all organic treatment you can do for your lawn. I’m not talking about sweet little metal stars that you pull and rotate with your home lawn tractor. I’m not talking about shoes with spikes in them where you walk around and believe in your deepest heart that this is the best form of aeration since color TV. No, real core aeration physically pulls a 1” or so diameter core with hollow tines which goes down several inches and deposits a plug on the surface of the lawn. The result is a grid of small holes in the lawn which then allows in air, lime, fertilizer, water, and a place to seed into! Wow, I can feel the difference just writing about it. Core aeration should be an annual, or every other year process to keep even a healthy lawn in check. There is a good reason golf courses aerate all the time, it works! Do yourself a favor in 2013, have your lawn aerated! You’ll sleep better at night.
Sea kelp or Compost tea don’t normally come up at the dinner table when folks think about improving their lawns or when reviewing a conventional turf contract for the spring. In fact, I’m sure every man would fall over if his wife or girlfriend turned to him at dinner and said, “Hey honey, why don’t we try sea kelp this year on the lawn? I hear it is full of organic matter, amino acids, and good stuff like that!” I myself might even shed a tear at such a revelation but most others would be petrified. The fact remains, she is right – compost tea and sea kelp are super at providing micro-organisms like fungi and bacteria, exactly what most lawns lack from abuse or low organic matter after the house was built. Poor soil is one of the leading causes of nasty looking lawns and no matter how much fertilizer and lime is applied, your lawn will only rise to a mediocre level at best. Adding compost tea and/or sea kelp is a great way to build up a healthier lawn from the soil up. A great house must be built on a solid foundation, so must a lawn be grown from soil that is better than sand, gravel, back-fill, or compacted clay. If you have never considered compost tea or sea kelp, give it some serious thought because whoever brings it up first at the dinner table wins!
The last treatment which ends this blog post and ends up coming in at the number five position is insect control. I mean grubs below ground or chinch bugs on the surface. Nothing will destroy your lawn without you noticing until the damage is done like insects. Weeds cannot damage or kill a lawn like a grub infestation can. While the hot, dry weather of 2012 behind us, the pests remain and will continue to wreak havoc in NH and VT lawns well into the early summer of 2013. Please don’t waste your money on milky spore either, a product designed for use down south, not to mention it only works on one type of beetle under ideal conditions. We have over a half dozen grub beetles in our growing area, so save the coin and have a treatment done professionally. There are good organic products available for all of these pests as well as great newer treatments in a more conventional mode. If you had insect problems in 2012 resulting in skunks digging and crows tearing up and tossing turf, get some help!
There is little disputing the 2012 growing season was a record breaker in more than one area. Extreme heat and corresponding drought caused widespread damage to even well cared for lawns. The effect of these weather phenomena then led to massive explosions of pests like grubs and chinch bugs. Even with November fast approaching, the pest issues will spill over into the spring of 2013, and if left untreated, will continue to cause turf damage. There is little that can be done for physical lawn repairs at this point in the growing season like bringing in new loam or trying to establish a lawn through seeding. However, beneficial turf treatments applied now like potassium, lime, compost tea, sea kelp, and slow release fertilizer can help both a damaged and healthy lawn. Lawn repairs ranging from small to full renovations should be explored now or at least during the winter months as landscapers and lawn care companies will be overwhelmed this spring by sheer volume of repairs necessary never mind pest treatments. Timing could not be more critical in terms of seeding and treating for damaging turf and ornamental pests than the spring of 2013. Even if the weather pattern returns to a more “normal” or stable pattern, the repercussions of this season’s heat and drought will continue into 2013. Although brown grass in October can be a result of past drought and exposure to dry weather, it can also spell bug troubles in the surrounding lawn as grubs vigorously eat fast growing root systems.
I am seeing grubs in record setting numbers and on lawns which have never had a past issue. While a curative treatment is only a short term fix, a preventative treatment in 2013 may well be in order for more lawns than previously expected. I do not normally endorse the use of materials to preventatively protect against grubs, which in a normal year are rarely a huge issue unless past history indicates a problem. However, I will be firmly endorsing both curative and preventative grub control on a case-by-case basis for 2013 because of the high risk factors recently experienced in New England. Furthermore, another mild winter would further enhance tick populations in 2013 in addition to hundreds of other outdoor pests. Make a note on your calendar to explore the potential health issues this winter and make plans, if deemed appropriate after speaking to professionals in the industry, such as Chippers.
On the bright side, the recent rain and cooler weather in combination with fall lawn treatments are helping damaged and weak lawns recover to the maximum degree possible before winter. Don’t dismiss potassium, compost tea, and aeration after the harsh growing season we experienced this past year. All of these treatments can be done well into November in most of New England so long as the ground does not freeze.
In closing, don’t forget the millions of crabgrass seeds which were deposited in record numbers along driveways, patios, and walkways because of drought or insect damaged lawns. Although a thick, healthy lawn is your best defense against crabgrass, some areas will not be up to the task without additional help of a preventative crabgrass barrier in the spring of 2013. Timing will be key and a lot of good can be done in an eight week period next spring, so don’t file your lawn contract when it arrives this winter, review it carefully and setup a proactive plan to both protect and perhaps restore your home lawn for the investment it truly is!
Potassium (K) is the last number in the triple letter fertilizer designation you find on the bag; 0-0-62 or N-P-K. Potassium is a salty fertilizer which is generally applied in the fall to enhance turf performance the following year. Second only to nitrogen in importance, potassium helps regulate water movement inside the grass plant which is critical during droughts like this past summer. K also plays a key role in thickening cell walls to improve winter hardiness against the cold. In terms of the next growing season, potassium improves wear tolerance in your lawn which comes in handy after a big party, BBQ, or soccer practice. Although research is inconclusive, some disease resistance may be gained with not only a proper amount of potassium in the soil, but a balance with other key nutrients. While no one nutrient is the “end all”, magic bullet; there are clear benefits to having a pure potassium treatment applied in the late fall before dormancy for improved water regulation, winter hardiness and wear tolerance.
I have applied potassium fertilizer to lawns and had the most spectacular, vivid green-up the following spring; the lawn almost seemed to glow! I can speak from experience that ending the year with a banana for your lawn can help set the stage for a great April and May. Since potassium is a small granule either white or reddish in tint, the product can easily be applied over a moderate leaf cover without reducing results. Remember, with an analysis of 0-0-62 or 0-0-60 you have a high amount of potassium but no nitrogen or phosphorus. With this special type of fertilizer, you only need a small amount of potassium fertilizer to receive great results next spring.
With the arrival of October, cooler weather and leaves changing color, the outdoors beckons the future arrival of winter. With a month or two left before the lawn mower is put away, there are fun activities that can be done to prepare you lawn for that quiet slumber known as dormancy. Warm soil with normal moisture levels can support great autumn growth in turf not just above ground, but below. Providing enough fertilizer to increase root carbohydrates are a vital part of finishing off your lawn on the right foot. The key is not to provide too much N (Nitrogen) which would cause excessively lush or succulent growth, thereby promoting winter kill and damage. Hardening off your lawn starts in October and ends in November not only with decreasing mowing height, but with the right applications should they be warranted. This would a good year to consider extra measures given the harsh summer we recently experienced
October is a great month to apply potassium based fertilizers or a standard fertilizer low in N that does not promote excessive top growth as November draws near. Autumn provides an ideal opportunity to regain significant root growth, preparing the lawn for the spring of 2013. Remember, good health in a lawn is not simply judged by the dark green color. What goes on underground, unseen is even more important. Energy reserves stored in the root system can help your lawn recover from whatever winter dishes out from ice, cold, and snow mold. Speaking of snow mold, although treatment is not an endorsed practice in a residential home lawn, some special circumstances can warrant a late season fungicide to just before snow fall if you have problems with this damaging disease.
Hardening off your lawn with potassium based fertilizers and slowly lowering the mowing height from 3” to 1.5” over a 4-6 week period can enhance the hardiness of your own lawn this fall. October remains a great month to core aerate if you have not had that procedure done in 2012. Although overseeding in general should be done by late October in most of New England, aeration can be done right into November so long as the soil is moist and not frozen. With the arrival of more mild winters of late, overseeding and mowing often can stretch a little longer than say 20 years ago. I would not endorse bluegrass seed in late October simply because it can take up to three weeks just to germinate, that time frame does not allow for a whole lot of growth prior to snow or hard freezes.
Don’t forget, in Vermont it is against the law to apply any fertilizer containing Nitrogen beyond October 15th, unless you have a new lawn, as mandated by the legislature! No one wants to break the law, do they? Don’t waste time; make sure your lawn gets a winterizer before you carve the Halloween pumpkin, then you will have a treat for a lawn next year, not a trick.
As far as your lawn cares, it simply wants some Nitrogen each year to assist in growing and some help if disease or pests are present. Your lawn does not care if the lawn application is liquid or dry. Issues arise only when cost and ease of treatment come into question between lawn care companies. There are pro and cons to each method of fertilizer use, so let’s start with the liquid vs dry debate. (more…)
There is no denying it, spring is upon us and soon your spring cleaning will end up outdoors with the yard. Yes, the lawn will beckon for your attention and no matter how long you put off the inevitable, your shrubs and grass will demand attention. Are you one of the many who do not relish the task of raking, mowing, and trying to maintain your own landscape? If so, you are not alone and should not be ashamed to admit this dark secret. In fact, many folks feel compelled to fertilizer their own lawn simply because everyone else is doing it. In our business, we call this “keeping up with the Jones’”, a classic syndrome seen across NH and VT. The pressure builds with each passing weekend to visit a local hardware store and buy flowers, gloves, shovels, rakes, fertilizer, and lime. As each Saturday expires, you see time going through the hour glass; time you simply do not have.
Why would you continue to suffer when the cost of hiring a professional lawn care company can actually yield better results, save you countless hours, and even represent an economic savings in your bank account? Quality is not cheap, but it may very well be less expensive than toiling for hours upon hours only to obtain the same results, be them poor to acceptable. There is an appropriate saying, “doing the same thing over and over will not result in a different outcome”. Sometimes a change is refreshing and the right thing to do, or at least worth considering that there are alternatives to maintaining a healthy lawn and landscape.
In the big world of lawn care, there are daunting choices to be made, promises and coupons are given without hesitation. No wonder you are confused and skeptical about our profession and what it really costs! No doubt your skepticism could be born from a bad past experience, perhaps with a large national chain or a “gentleman” in a pick-up truck with little or no experience? Like revisiting a restaurant after having a bad meal, you simply cannot even consider the option of professional turf care. Who can blame you? I cannot. But what I can say is there are lots of folks with lots of real experience in this business in NH and VT. Professionals in every sense of the word that have the education and real field experience necessary to diagnose, prescribe, and care your lawn.
If the coupon or direct mail piece sounds too good to be true, it most likely is! You are looking to save time, money, and receive the results most would expect from a professional lawn care company. If the trucks look the same, they have similar marketing strategies and programs. I hate to spoil your dinner, but there are no supersonic, ultra coated, magnetic, super powered fertilizers in existence. There is a basic science of soil life and how it supports plant growth. Yes, fertilizers have a roll, but are not the end-all to a healthy lawn. I don’t care how many times or what you coat the fertilizer pellet with, the applicator’s skill level, treatment consistency, and amount of fertilizer applied are the key to quality results – period. This fact applies to compost tea, lime, aeration, sea kelp, and yes- even fertilizer!
If the coupon does not fit, and if the gimmick seems slick and full of ideal promises, you might want a second opinion from a professional in the business, someone like me or a locally owned business in your own home town. A great lawn can be yours without sacrificing your valuable weekends or draining your bank account. You get what you pay for in the end so let it be effective and worth your hard-earned income. Have a great spring!