Mulching Leaves in Fall

Mulching your leaves is good for your lawn

Here is a great video from Dr. Kevin Frank of Michigan State University on the benefits of mulching your leaves back into your lawn.

Preparing your lawn and landscape for winter

Now that fall has arrived and your lawn growth has slowed, it’s time to turn your attention to winterizing your property. Here is a checklist of things that need to be done before winter arrives:

-Prepare for your last leaf cleanups:
-Clean any remaining leaves from the roof
-Clean the leaves out of your gutters
-Get all the remaining leaves out of your landscaping

-Make sure you lower your mowing height for the final mowing of the season.

-Winterize your underground sprinkler system. (We can refer a contractor if needed.)

-Take in your garden hoses, rain gauge, portable basketball hoops with water in the base, and anything that could gather water and freeze.

-Take in or cover your patio furniture and gas grill.

-Check your garage for anything that you may need over the winter or that could freeze.

-Clean your lawn mower, sharpen the blade, and add a fuel stabilizer for winter.

-Find your snow blower and make sure it starts. If it needs attention, be proactive-do it now before the repair shops are overwhelmed!

Moles vs Voles

Many people often mistake voles for moles. Moles make underground tunnels while voles make above-ground runaways. Moles eat earthworms, grubs, and insects whereas voles gnaw at the base of trees and shrubs and eat plants, especially grass and flower bulbs.

During the winter, voles will tunnel under the snow and create winding trails about 2 inches wide, as they feed on grass. In most cases, raking up the loose grass will take care of the problem. The damage is mainly cosmetic and the turf will recover on its own in time.

If you have a large vole problem, using mouse control baits will help control voles. It is a good idea to use these products in a weatherproof bait station. These bait stations help to protect non-target pests and keep the mouse control products from getting wet. Mouse snap traps can also be effective when placed perpendicular to the runways with a peanut butter-oatmeal mixture or apple slices as bait.

Mulching Leaves

The days of raking and bagging leaves should be over for almost everyone. Studies have shown that homeowners have successfully mulched more than 6 inches of leaves back into their lawn. Mulching leaves will chop them into very small pieces; often into dust. From a distance or after substantial rain, you’ll never know your leaves were mulched. Mulched leaves, like grass clippings, are high in nutrients and organic matter and are good to return to the soil. There are a few keys to making mulching work;

First, make sure your lawn mower blade is sharp. Without a sharp blade, mulching leaves will be a difficult process.

Second, If you have a thick layer of leaves, move your mowing height up to keep your mower from working too hard.

Third, try to mulch your leaves when they are dry. Wet leaves tend to turn into a paste rather than dust.

Following these tips will save you hours of work this fall.

Click here to read what Rebecca Finneran from MSU has to say about mulching leaves.

Top reasons why reseeding fails

#4- Seeding too heavy- Most people put down grass seed way too heavy.   More is better, right?  Not with seeding.  When seeding too heavily, you get lots of small grass plants too close together without enough space for their roots to grow.  As a result, most of the plants die, and you are left with very thin grass.   Study the label on your grass seed bag for instructions on how to properly apply the grass seed. The picture above shows the correct density of seed when reseeding.

#3- Lack of sunlight- Many times, people are reseeding because their lawns are thin in the shady areas.  As trees grow taller and thicker, the Kentucky Bluegrass under these trees starts to die as it won’t grow in dark conditions.  If you don’t improve the sunlight, the new grass won’t survive.  Trimming or removing trees may be necessary to grow grass.  Take a step back and assess whether trying to plant grass is the best option for your space.   Would a mulch bed with shady-loving plants be better for this area?

#2- Poor Soil Preparation- Seeding is all about preparation.  Simply broadcasting seed over your lawn is worthless.  Grass seed needs to be touching bare, loose dirt to grow.  There are two different options for preparing your soil for seed.   The first option is to use a hard-tined rake to rake the top inch of soil.  The second option is to add a thin layer of dirt.  We like to do both; rake the top inch of soil and add a thin layer of dirt.  Doing both options will give the roots of your new grass the best chance to grow.

#1- Not watering enough- For grass seed to grow, it needs to stay moist for 21 days in a row.  That usually means watering at least twice a day.  If you have an underground sprinkler system, we recommend setting your sprinkler system to come on four times a day for 4-6 minutes per zone.  You want the seeded area to stay moist, but you don’t want water to puddle.  At 10 days, ryegrass and fescue will start to germinate, but don’t stop watering!  If you stop watering at 10 days, the Kentucky Bluegrass won’t grow, and it is the most desirable variety of grass.  It doesn’t start to germinate until 21 days.

Grass seed needs three things to germinate:  It needs to be touching bare loose dirt, it needs sunlight and water.  If all 3 of these elements are present, you will win at seeding.   But if you are missing any one of these, your seeding will fail.  

Give the Gift of Lawn Care

 

Looking for the perfect gift for the person who has everything? A gift they won’t return and a gift you know they will enjoy?
How about a gift certificate for lawn care?
We can customize a lawn care program to fit their needs and your holiday budget, contact our office for more details: 616-698-8930.

 

 

 

Preparing Your Lawn for Winter

As summer winds down, here are a few suggestions for your lawn and landscape.

First, if you didn’t receive grub control this season and see evidence of creatures digging in your lawn, you may have raccoons or skunks feeding on grubs. Grubs can be a serious problem for your lawn and can still be controlled this time of the year. Let us know, we can help.

Second, if you need one final mowing for the season, go ahead and move down your mowing height on your lawn mower. Dropping your height 1/2″ will result in a healthier, greener lawn next spring with less chance of disease.

Third, if you still have to do a final leaf cleanup, it is ok to recycle leaves back into your lawn. Click here for more information.

Fourth, fall is a good time to inspect trees and shrubs in your landscape and plan for some preventative maintenance to minimize problems that can occur over the winter. To read more, click on this link.

 

Seeding Your Lawn

Successful lawn establishment means doing the right thing at the right time.  New seed fails because of timing, poor quality seed, improper seed selection, poor soil conditions, improper site preparation, or improper water and fertilizing.

Timing is Everything

The best time of the year to seed is from August 15 to September 15.  The warm days and cool night are ideal for seed germination.  Spring is the second best time to seed, but could result in crabgrass and excessive weeds.

Seed Selection

Most retailers offer grass seed that is clearly marked as “sunny” or “shady” mixes.  Shady mixes have mostly fescue and rye grass which are better for low light areas.  For a sunny mix, look for one with at least 70% Kentucky Bluegrass.

Site Preparation

Lawn-tools-Image

In order to grow grass from seed, the grass seed needs to be touching bare, loose dirt.  Most seeding fails because the seed is not in contact with the soil.  This may require raking with a firm rake and/or spreading some fresh topsoil.

Mulch

If using straw, spread one to two bales of straw per 1000 square feet.  Spread it so that 1/3 to 1/2 of the soil is visible.  If seeding in the fall, the straw should be left on over the winter.  If you do not use straw or mulch, rake in the seed lightly: the teeth of your rake should just lightly touch the soil.  Too much pressure will cover the seeds too deep.  Cover the seed so that 10 percent of them are still visible.

 

Watering

SprinklerSprinkle frequently enough to keep the soil moist, but also avoid puddling.  This will require watering several times a day for the first couple of weeks.

Mowing

Mow as soon as the grass blades exceed 3 inches in height.  Keep traffic off the new lawn until the new turf has filled in enough that you cannot see the soil.  Expect some weeds to come up along with your new grass.

Fertilizer and Weed Control

Let us know about any seeding in your lawn and we will make the necessary adjustments to your program for optimal growth.