Posts Tagged ‘natural’

A look back at the 2012 lawn care season.

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.

Don't wait until the spring to make your lawn plans

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.

White grubs are eating your lawn without you knowing it!

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!



How to find a great lawn care company in NH & VT

Published by JKeefe on March 9th, 2011 - in Lawn Care Companies, Misc.

Find the right lawn care company this year


On the surface, many lawn care companies appear exactly alike as it relates to a phone book or newspaper advertisement.  If a web site is available, you are likely to see images of a thick, green lawn surrounded by bold tag lines such as “Quality service”, “Five step program”, or “Satisfaction Guaranteed” among many others.  Before you start shopping, write down a short list of what you are looking for- even if you don’t know what you want.  Let me explain.

What are some of your priorities?  Less weeds perhaps, maybe a healthier lawn is your general desire?  Do you prefer natural products over traditional ones?  The final consideration should be the budget or price as any reputable company will prioritize treatments according to results and how to get there as it relates to your wishes.  Said another way, you care about your lawn and have at least decided to seek additional professional help; regardless of the underlying reasons.  While pricing is certainly an important component, what you get for that price varies between lawn care companies.  Experience, product choice, and even rates applied can range from “light” to “generous” when it comes to the amount of material used at your home or office.

While you may not have the time or desire to execute a properly designed turf enhancement program, there are plenty of great companies that will not only make your lawn look better, but make you smile when you look out your window.  All lawn programs are not created equally.  All lawn programs have underlying similar themes but the product choices and execution of the program are critically different between certified, licensed lawn companies.  Do you know anyone who uses a lawn care company?  If so, who do they use and why?  Often you might have heard “street talk”, conversations in passing good or bad of experiences with either local or distant lawn companies.  While national lawn companies may boast the cheapest price, the savings in results, service, billing, customer service, and problem solving skills tend to be inconsistent and difficult to control between offices.  Along the same theme, is supporting your local economy important?  If so, look for lawn care companies within a 30 minute drive of your home versus 1, 2 or more hours away.

What program options are you interested in?  Is your preference toward Natural or Organic fertilizers and treatments of compost tea and sea kelp?  Maybe your interest is simply removing all of those juicy weeds that inhabit your front lawn!  Keeping an open mind, there are many roads and options that can lead to a healthier, greener lawn.  Some lawn products take longer to see visible results while others are faster or “better” simply by working on technology.  Who made the lawn program you are considering?  Is the program a corporate “white bread” duplicated office after office, or are the materials handpicked and the program handcrafted by a smaller company?  These are all very good questions to consider while selecting a new or switching to another lawn care program.    

Once you have a list of priorities and have considered some of the questions put forth in this blog post, you are ready to act!  Good luck in your quest and may your phone call or e-mail be answered promptly.  Get ready for spring!


Use high calcium lime on your lawn to reduce rock salt damage!

Published by JKeefe on February 28th, 2011 - in Ice Melt, Lawn Care Companies, Lime

Salt damage along a sidewalk

If you have been wondering what sort of impact so much snow will have on the average lawn come spring, switch gears and think of salt and plowing.  Unfortunately, where there is smoke there is often fire- where we have lots of snow- there has been plowing and salt use.  A winter like the one we are currently experiencing means rock salt is going down everywhere- especially on roads, parking lots, and sideways.  With so much rock salt use, the pure tonnage used during the winter means your soil will have problems this spring.  In large quantities, salt causes soil to harden and upsets the normal flow of liquid into surrounding plant roots like your lawn, tree, and shrubs.  Generally, a decent snow cover protects your lawn from the drying winds and low temperatures common to winter weather.  However, if large amounts of rock salt are used, foliage and plants are likely to suffer damage.  Visible damage will become apparent in April as the snow recedes to expose a seemingly lifeless landscape of brown.

The likelihood of a salt spray coming into contact with tree or shrub foliage increases dramatically with each passing snow or ice storm.  This fact is especially true if you live on a main road or one which has town services such as salting.   The resulting contact with a salt solution lifted up by passing cars can cause a reduction in cold hardiness of tree buds, especially evergreen needles like those on an Arborvitae.  In the world of grass, salt upsets the balance of water and the ability of it to pass into the root system.  The resulting affect of too much rock salt on a lawn is a drought like condition where ample water simply cannot be used- despite wet soil conditions or standing water.

The later in the season salt is used, the greater the damage.  Using ice melts low in chlorides, especially calcium or sodium chloride should be avoided due to their enhanced plant killing abilities.  CMA’s or blends of plant friendly ice melts are much less harmful and while they may not avoid all damage, greatly reduce the amount likely to occur.

To help offset sodium chloride (rock salt) in a lawn or soil area, use high calcium lime to displace the sodium by leaching with adequate amounts of spring rain/snow melt.  Although not a miracle cure, the chemistry works out pretty good versus using gypsum which only further acidifies the soil environment.  If you plan on liming this year or have used too much rock salt, have your lawn limed with a high calcium lime- not a standard pelletized lime.  Turf loves calcium, a slightly acidic pH, and a softer soil improved by using only calcium based lime.  I only offer a high calcium lime for not only the aforementioned reasons but for other benefits to a lawn system.

With March on our doorstep, spring is more than just a thought, its reality.  Prepare for the plow and salt damage now before the opportunity passes as early spring fades into Memorial Day weekend!

Plow damage can be most upsetting

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