Posts Tagged ‘concord lawn care’

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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October lawn tips

Nothing says autumn quite like a dark green lawn covered in vibrant orange and yellow leaves. Cool fall nights and the still warm soil transform your normally fast growing lawn into one that is focused on storing energy in its root system. This special phenomenon is a unique time of year with many advantages when it comes to seeding, fertilizing, aerating, liming and winterizing your lawn.

 

October remains a top month for lawn care in NH & VT

October remains a top month for lawn care in NH & VT

 

 

Whether you have a home lawn or one at your business, October is no trick when it comes to setting up your lawn for better survival over the winter. And the treat for any lawn treatment in October means a greener, healthier lawn next spring, if done correctly. October lawn care treatments done before soil temperatures drop to a level where your lawn is going into hibernation are of particular benefit. Seeding and fertilizations of any kind are more sensitive to warmer soils for maximum results in the fall.

 

Seeding
Seeding bare patches in your lawn or over seeding new grass into a thin or existing lawn are great ways to really speed up the thickening process now to set the stage for next year. Any grass you gain now by seeding can be treated for crabgrass next spring, allowing for a better lawn in 2015. If you wait until spring to seed, the cold soil prevents early seeding well into May, thus competing with annual weeds and crabgrass; a recipe for disaster.

 

Fertilizing
Natural and organic fertilizers also work best in warmer soils when micro-organisms are growing and can help breakdown the material into a useable form for your turf grass. By contrast, synthetic fertilizers are already in a more useable form and can be used later into the season as soils cool down. The cautionary note of using fertilizers too late in the season if the ground is frozen or very cold means not really achieving any benefit to the lawn and the possibility of runoff into streams, rivers, and other undesirable areas.

 

Aeration and Lime
Core aeration on the other hand can be done right up until the ground freezes or is at the very least very cold in November or early December, depending upon your actual location in New England. Of course, if you plan to over seed after aerating, earlier is better for germination and subsequent growth before snow falls. Lime can also be applied well into late fall, with the full benefits achieved in spring relating to pH or general soil conditioning.

 

Winterizing
One last tip, remove piles of leaves on your lawn, especially on thin, shaded, or new grass areas, as they will act as mulch and damage your lawn. As the temperature drops and November approaches, you can actually drop your mowing height down to 2”. Your final cut in November should be 1.5” to help minimize winter damage and snow mold.

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