Posts Tagged ‘raking’

Don’t let matted leaves and early snow get you down

Clean up your yard before winter snow stays

Most folks got at least a few inches of snow this past weekend during a record setting October snow storm.  The impact on your lawn can be summed up in a few basic scenarios with the first involving moderate to substantial leaf litter on the ground now snow covered.  Left uncollected, these piles of leaves can be trouble for your lawn as colder weather approaches with snow that will not melt until spring.  As soon as you can remove leaf piles and other debris brought down by the heavy, wet snow you should plan on doing so to prevent smothering areas of your lawn.  The thicker the leaf pile, the better it will mulch your grass leaving dead spots and bare areas next year.

If you have your driveway plowed, now is a great time to put up stakes marking the edge of the lawn indicating the transition from gravel or pavement to grass.  Snow plow damage becomes visible in the spring time as snow recedes, exposing chunks of sod and grass tossed aside to dry out and die.  Without help, snow plow operators can have difficulty determining where your driveway ends and the lawn begins.  Such an error is commonplace during late night snow storms and can result in significant lawn damage.  Using posts, stakes, or sticks can provide a simple, yet effective signal and minimize or prevent the edge of your lawn from being “relocated”.

Even though it is now November, if you got caught with your lawn still needing another cut- say over 3” in height- don’t feel odd pulling out your mower for one last farewell mowing.  Many folks can remove leaves and mow simultaneously so this is a great opportunity to “get two birds with one stone” as the saying goes.  A clean, short cut in November is one way you can say “I love you” to your lawn before the onset of winter.

Many tree limbs were damaged by the weight of the snow with leaves still turning colors, many still green!  Be sure to have those branches cleanly pruned to help reduce future insect and disease damage.  Of course, remove as many downed branches on your lawn as possible, leaving the lawn surface as clean as possible before winter truly arrives.  Completing these basic housekeeping items can give your landscape the edge it might need to survive an unpredictable winter.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestShare

Autumn brings out the best in a lawn in NH & VT

chippers can create a picture perfect lawn outside your window

With autumn in full swing, most lawns in NH & VT should be well recovered from what was a record setting summer in terms of high heat.  Any lingering damage should be very obvious and can be fixed before winter such as dead patches of crabgrass or ongoing grub activity.  September and October are ideal months to improve your grass due to warm soil, ample moisture, and cool days/nights.  Fertilizing, liming, aeration, seeding, compost tea, and optional weed reduction are all most effective at this time of the year in NH & VT.  Any insect activity should be addressed now as the longer you wait; the more lawn you lose and the more difficult the control becomes as the pests grow larger such as with grubs in the soil.

If your lawn has issues with weeds such as shepherd’s purse, chickweed, or henbit; consider a treatment this fall with products such as Dimension.  Use of the aforementioned product this fall will also provide some crabgrass suppression next spring.

Autumn is a great time to improve your soil since it is the supporting mechanism for a healthy lawn.  Topdressing with compost, adding sea kelp, or spraying on compost tea rich in humates, fungi, and bacteria are encouraging ways to improve the microbial state of your lawn before winter.  Using a high calcium lime is a positive step to not only adjust your soil pH, but provide calcium which turf greatly appreciates by improving the cation exchange within the soil itself.  What does that mean?  Calcium helps loosen soil up while Magnesium based lime tends to bind it up more.  The better the cation exchange, the less your soil will leach nutrients, especially when combined with a healthy microbial environment below ground.  Soils high in organic matter have high cation exchange capacities while sandy soils have very low ratings.  As you can see, healthy soil is more important to your lawn than you may have imagined.

As always, be sure to recycle your lawn clippings whenever possible and mow high even in the fall to promote deeper root systems.  As the leaves begin to fall and accumulate, don’t let them mulch out shaded areas- rake them up or mow them into pieces.  Improved sunlight can help those marginal areas which were blocked by a tree canopy or forest edge.  Even shade tolerant grass will appreciate a little extra sun in the fall before winter snow arrives.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestShare

Spring Lawn Checklist 2014

Goodbye winter, hello green!

The snow is mostly gone, you may even have a few lingering snow banks that refuse to leave, but for the most part, your lawn is begging for some attention.  Here is a handy spring checklist for your home lawn as you prepare for spring.

1. Plow damage.  It’s been a snowy, rough winter and if you had your driveway plowed, you are likely going to have plow damage.  Chunks of sod and lawn likely got plowed up along the edges and pushed further back onto your lawn.  These pieces of turf chunks may be close to their original location which is now just a scar in the dirt.  If possible, try to put the lawn puzzle back together and place the grass pieces back onto bare soil.  It may well be weeks before anything else can be done and during that time frame, those pieces of grass will start to break dormancy and grow.  Having them at least touching soil is better than mulching your unharmed lawn where they currently reside.  You can always move these grassy sections later and seed as needed into surrounding bare areas.

2. Debris. You may well find gravel, junks of asphalt, branches, leaves, and other debris that simply don’t belong on a grassy surface.  The sooner you can rake and remove this debris, the better.  If the debris is left in its current location, you may not see it during your first mow.  Nothing is more painful than hitting sticks, rocks, and gravel with your mower having been placed onto your lawn by a plow truck.  Leaves left in piles or allowed to matt, especially in shade, will simply mulch any existing grass depending upon its health and density.  The less debris the better.

3. Raking. There are two ways to rake a lawn, one is intentionally damaging- power raking/dethatching, the other is just plain hand raking or using a pull behind tractor implement.  I do not recommend power raking/dethatching unless the lawn has a severe, and by severe I mean a thatch problem- over 1” thick.  Most lawns do not have this kind of depth when it comes to thatch.  As a result, if the average lawn is power raked, it is actually damaged by the process of tearing and cutting.  Since the grass is dormant, and likely stressed by winter ice/snow/cold damage, power raking tears up roots and actually thins a lawn which in most cases is not a desired outcome.  If seeing piles of dead grass blades makes you feel warm inside, you might want to look at a coffee or hot cocoa instead, it certainly will do less damage to your lawn.  I have seen perfectly healthy lawns nearly destroyed by well intended landscapers, only to be called in to repair the damage by overseeding and other processes.  Stick with a hand rake and fluff the lawn up to help it warm and start to grow, or hire someone to do a spring cleanup which includes light raking.  If your lawn has a thatch issue, consider core aeration later in the spring or fall after it has recovered from winter damage.

4. Fertilizer/Crabgrass control. If you are going to use either fertilizer and crabgrass control blended together- don’t put it down too early.  A crabgrass barrier/inhibitor has a limited life span and can easily thin out turf already in a weakened state from winter.  Your best bet is to apply a plain balanced fertilizer to enhance recovery in April, than follow it up with a crabgrass inhibitor in May for maximum results.  This order will accomplish the best of both treatments while not subjecting your lawn to further stress, thinning, or damage.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestShare
© Copyright 2009-2014 Chippers, Inc. All Rights Reserved.