Archive for the ‘Misc.’ Category

Late fall lawn tips: raking and mowing

You know the lawns, the ones that stay buried in leaves from October until Memorial Day or the perfectly clean ones where not a single leaf can be found by Thanksgiving. Although these two kinds of lawns are at opposite ends of the autumn-leaf-removal spectrum, the point is made; you should do something about those leaves before the snow flies.

 

 

A clean, healthy green lawn will better handle winter issues.

A clean, healthy green lawn will better handle winter issues.

Heavy leaf cover acts like mulch and remember, we mulch to keep weeds and seeds from germinating in our landscape. The deeper the leaf cover and the larger the piles, the more likely this lawn will thin out or end up as bare ground come late spring. The best solution to lots of leaves is a late season cleanup in November, well after foliage season has passed.

 
While obtaining a perfectly clean lawn is not necessary, a good raking or professional cleanup will go a long way toward protecting your lawn come winter. This way, next spring when things starting growing, your lawn can join the green-up and not be inhibited or damaged from heavy leaf cover left over from the prior year.

 
Another important item on the fall checklist is the final mowing. I get these questions a lot, “How short do I mow my lawn and when should the final cut be?” Generally, in northern New England, the final cut should be in November. The final mowing height should range right around 1.5”, depending upon grade, because an uneven lawn may be severely scalped if cut this low.

 

 

 

A healthy fall lawn

 

A short cut can help minimize snow mold, winter kill, ice damage, and even vole damage as outlined in my earlier post http://www.mrgrassblog.net/2014/10/20/mole-voles-landscape/. This is the only time of year I recommend a very short cut! A lawn that is left long (over 3”) is in jeopardy and greater peril for damage from the aforementioned issues. Add to that excessive leaf cover and your lawn can soon turn into a parking area versus a green space to enjoy.

 

The moral of today’s blog post is to cut your lawn short in November and keep it relatively leaf free before the snow flies for a happier and greener lawn next spring!

 

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Mole and Voles in your Landscape

Moles and voles remind me that not all lawn problems are directly related to weed, disease, or insect issues. Moles and voles can be real lawn nuisances and I have not really addressed these varmints in the past. Moles and voles are very different critters and an ounce of prevention can help keep your landscape free of both of these pests.

 

Field Vole

A common vole
Moles are carnivorous animals that primarily eat earth worms, adult insects, and a variety of grubs in the soil. Voles by contrast are rodents and look much like a mouse. Voles seek to eat grass blades, bulbs, bark, roots, and succulent vegetation on trees and shrubs in and around your home. One is a meat eater and the other is a vegetarian and both cause an eye sore with their tunneling and feeding activities in lawns and beds. Mole and vole activity peak between September and April. Moles aggressively forage for insects in your home landscape.

 

Common Mole

A common mole.
Neither moles nor voles hibernate, so they can cause damage year round. Moles have two kinds of tunnels, a surface feeding tunnel with the characteristic mound of soil pushed up, as well as a lower “interstate highway” for long distance travel to say the woods or a mulch bed. Voles’ tunnels are similar to the mole surface feeding tunnel, less the mound of dirt. You may have moles or voles but neither has any direct correlation to the other in terms of sharing tunnels or food source. Both varmints make a mess and their tunneling can drive home owners into frenzy much like the groundskeeper in the movie Caddyshack.

 

Classic "volcano mounds" caused by mole activity in a lawn visible in late October

Classic “volcano mounds” caused by mole activity in October

Now that we have outlined key differences between a mole and vole, what can be done? Regular mowing is very helpful toward discouraging a resident mole or vole but is not the only preventative action available.
To discourage voles, keeping clean gardens, landscape beds, and mulch depth to less than 2”removes potential nesting sites. Overgrown plants, excessive leaf litter, and deep mulch in your gardens or landscape are ideal habitats for voles. Be sure to clean out all the fall leaf litter around your foundation to remove vole nesting sites before winter. Cutting your lawn short to 1.5” in November will help reduce a surface food source under the snow. Since voles are rodents, you can also use mouse traps placed around ornamental shrubs like you would in your home.
Moles meaty food source of worms, grubs, and insects ironically often means you have healthy soil under your lawn. While grub reduction can be helpful, it is not the moles’ main food or only food source. Since moles don’t like a lot of traffic or sound, I have seen sonic devices do a nice job on making a hostile habitat; creating a rock concert atmosphere if you will. I have mole baits which used as a last resort will take out your resident mole(s).
When it comes to controlling moles and voles, a tidy landscape is a healthy landscape. Weekly walks around your lawn and garden beds can help spot a mole or vole infestation before it becomes a big problem. Placing mouse traps for voles is a simple, yet effective means to protecting your valuable landscape.

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Less clippings and mowing equates to a happy lawn owner

Everyone loves a lush green lawn, but hates frequent mowing and those huge piles of grass clippings.  Even though mulching is the proper long term way to mow a lawn, there are plenty of times when the pure volume of grass clippings calls for hauling them away, either by yourself or the landscaper.  The effort of disposing of grass clippings takes time and more importantly, money.  What about the crazy, fast growing grass in the spring?  Would you like more time between cuts?  I see lots of hands going up as you and others read this article this very moment.

Less grass clippings?
There are products that are specifically designed to address not only these concerns but offer even more benefits with such a seemingly mystical, wonderful treatment.  With your full attention, let’s explore exactly what I’m talking about as it relates to less grass clippings and less mowing.

The specific lawn treatment I reference can only be done when the turf is growing and in a healthy state, spring and fall to keep things simple; not the summer.  A single spray to an average lawn, consisting of the typical grasses found in NH and VT can reduce grass growth up to 50% for nearly 4 weeks; wow!  This spray causes the roots to grow, creating a more fibrous system while dramatically reducing top growth in the leaf blades.  The end result is more growth and roots in the soil, and less up top which dramatically reduces grass clippings.  Your lawn’s energy is now focused much like in the fall, creating lots of roots for winter and storing up energy.  The bonus of this process occurring in the spring means your grass is strengthened, like an athlete, for the stress of summer heat and drought.  Whether you enjoy your lawn for regular family gatherings, soccer practice, or special 4th of July barbeques; recovery will be faster and your grass will withstand the wear to a much higher degree then if not treated.

Lawn growing so fast
This could be the year you want a little break from the lawn chores and have us treat your lawn so you can do more playing and less mowing.  This product has been around for decades, used in the golf industry, greenhouses, and plant nurseries as a growth reduction hormone for plants.  As a certified, licensed company in NH and VT, you are assured Chippers will safely and professionally treat your lawn with this or any other of our lawn care treatments.  If you would like more information on this or any of our Essential Turf Care offerings, just click on this blog’s main page tab labeled “Lawn Care”, call, or email today.  We are very pleased to offer this new service in 2014 based on customer feedback and addressing what the public is looking for when it comes to offering only the best in professional lawn care in NH and VT.  Get ready for spring; it’s coming sooner than you think . . .

 
reduce grass clippings

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