Category Archives: Uncategorized

Grass Cutting

Generally the higher that you cut your lawn the greener and healthier it will be especially during the hottest months. It is recommended to keep the height of your grass at least 4 inches, 5 inches is even better especially during the hottest months.
This one simple little suggestion can do wonders for your lawns health. Some people think that if you cut the grass lower it will not need cut as often. They think they will save money when paying someone to cut their grass, little do they know they are harming the lawn.
Cutting the grass too low may slow its growth somewhat and even kill the grass in spots or just overall make it thinner and unhealthy. If this is done too frequently it will make the grass weak, less disease resistant and more prone to attract weeds.
There are those people that want their lawn to look like a golf green and think that all you have to do to achieve this is to cut it lower. It is a little more complicated than that, the types of grasses used on a golf green are not commonly found in your average lawn and require special care and maintenance. The grasses that make up a golf green are specially selected for their low creeping and drought resistance qualities. Special lawn mowers are also used just for the greens.
A golf course spends significantly more money, time and effort to maintain its grasses than the average home owner does and regular maintenance also includes regular fertilizing and watering.
By keeping the grass cut a little higher especially during the hottest months, you help it to keep in more moisture, it is also less stressed and more disease resistant.  A thick full lawn will also help to keep weeds out since there will be no room for them to become established.
To have your lawn cut by a professional please visit our Featured Listings page to find the top local landscapers for your area.

Re – Seeding

Are you starting to notice some bare spots in your lawn that need attention, or does it just look thin and dull overall? If the most recent summer was an extremely hot and dry one and the lack of rainfall has contributed to certain areas dying out and turning brown then you may want to consider spot or whole lawn re – seeding.
Generally re – seeding can be done at any time during the normal growing season as long as it is watered sufficiently but spring is the best time start warm weather grassesand fall is the most ideal time for optimum results with cool weather grasses . However the air temperature should be between 60 to 75 degrees during the day for best results.
Ideally you will want to avoid the more extreme hot temperatures that usually occur in the summer months between June to the end of August. Even if you thoroughly water daily the mid day sun can really take a toll on the delicate new seedlings and even after the new grass matures if it makes it there is still a greater possibility of it dying out.
Different types of grasses have different types of requirements so try to choose a seed blend that is recommended for the growing zone where you are located. You will need full sun seed for full sun exposed areas and shade seed for those areas that have full or partial shade, your local lawn & garden or home improvement store should have several varieties that are suitable for your area.
Once you have purchased the seed and have enough to cover the areas that need attention you will need a hand or power rake for preparation, a seed spreader, a wheel barrow and a large flat shovel to apply mushroom manure topping.
Start by raking the surface of the soil to loosen it up a bit to create a more favorable environment for the new seed to take. If you are re – seeding shady areas where moss usually grows on the surface of the ground you will need to remove the moss also by raking it. If you have any low areas or exposed tree roots now would be the time to add some topsoil to these areas to level them off before applying the seed.
If you have large areas to cover or you would like to re – seed the entire lawn then you may want to consider renting a de – thatching machine or power rake as it is sometimes also called to make the job go more quickly.
For more details on the subject of de – thatching please just type this phrase into the search box in the left column of our site for more detailed information on this subject.
Once you have thoroughly raked all areas and removed all debris it will be time to spread the grass seed. For large areas use a good drop spreader, test it out on a small area to see how much seed it will be dropping and make any adjustment to the spreaders opening necessary before you begin.  Once you finish a row of seed and turn around to do the next one, slightly overlap the wheel of the spreader so as to overlap the seed so there are no bare spots. Finish going back and fourth with the spreader until the entire lawn is covered then turn and go over it again going back & fourth in the opposite direction making a waffle pattern to more thoroughly cover the area.
After the seed is spread you will need some mushroom manure to top it off. The mushroom manure can be spread over the surface using a large flat shovel such as a coal shovel and shaking it off the end of the shovel or by using two hands to scoop it up and shake it on top of the soil. Try both and use whichever method is easier for you and the best results. The idea is to coat the surface with a thin layer of the manure just enough to cover the seed, more is not better, too much will slow or even prevent the seed from germinating.
Mushroom manure actually does three things, it covers the seed to keep in moisture, provides natural fertilizer and helps to keep birds away from eating all the seeds.
A regular watering schedule will be the next step after all the seed is covered with the manure. Watering twice daily once in the morning and again in the evening should be sufficient. You will want to continue this routine for about two weeks or so until the grass fills in and then you can water once daily for another week or so. After 3 weeks you can gradually cut back on the watering as long as it is not too extremely hot each day.
Lawn re – seeding can be a lot of work and there are no short cuts to success here. If you don’t have the time to complete this project or would rather have it done by someone with more experience then simply visit our Featured Listings page for a qualified landscaper near you.

Grubs

If you notice dead patches or patterns in your lawn or there are areas where the grass just lifts from the surface then there is a good chance you may have grub worms.  Grubs are the larvae of different types of beetles which grow from eggs which the females have previously laid after burrowing under the lawn.

Once these eggs hatch and the larvae start feeding on the roots of the grass in your lawn they will continue sometimes in spots, circles, ” C” shapes, straight or squiggly lines destroying the grass growing in their path.
Grubs will most likely be present somewhere beneath the surface in most lawns going unnoticed until they become more numerous then the damage becomes more evident.
The presence of grub worms can also invite other pests like moles into your lawn.Grubs are a moles favorite food and they will keep burrowing under the surface of your lawn to find them. You will immediately notice the mounded trails and holes they make in your lawn.
You may want to visit your local lawn & garden, or home improvement store and pick up a bag of some grub worm control found in the fertilizer section. Carefully read and follow all instructions in the labeling of the product and apply accordingly with your fertilizer spreader if you are using a granular product. You will most likely need to water the lawn after the application for it to penetrate the surface of the soil and get down to where the grubs are feeding.
If you would like to have this service done by a licensed professional please take a look at the fertilizer applicators in our Specialized Services pages or under Featured Listingsfor landscapers who also apply fertilizers and pesticides.

Raised Beds

When adding new beds or changing existing ones around the house, foundation areas especially it is a good time to consider adding some top soil to raise the beds up and to promote good drainage.
The soil around the foundation of a house tends to settle and sink in a bit years after a house is built. Also if you have ever had leaky gutters or downspouts that have washed away some of the soil it is a good idea to add some soil in these areas making them higher directly next to the foundation and slope gradually outward at least 3 or 4 feet if possible.
By doing this build up of soil and creating a raised bed it will help to keep the rain waters away from your foundation so as not to cause any water problems in the future. Another benefit of raised beds is that it lifts up your shrubs, plants and flowers so that they can be seen better at the street level and at a greater distance away from the house.
This will create more ” curb appeal ” so to speak after all what is the purpose of having nice plants surrounding your home if no one can see them unless the are very close.
Even if you are creating a new bed in the middle of a lawn for example, once you edge the area and remove the grass from the center you will want to add some topsoil. If you mound the soil up a little higher than lawn level it will promote good drainage and showcase your plants better and add character to your property by making them stand out better in the landscape.
Your local lawn & garden center or landscape supply should have all the nice screened topsoil you will need. If you don’t have a truck to pick it up don’t worry most places deliver for a small fee.
If you decide to have the soil delivered it’s a good idea to buy a cheap poly tarp to lay down over the area where you intend to have it dumped. Place some bricks, rocks or other heavy objects at the corners to keep it from blowing away before the delivery truck gets there. The tarp will prevent stains and help you to clean up when done. If you do not plan on starting the project immediately or if there is rain in the weather forecast you may want to pick up two tarps using the second one to cover the top of the pile to keep it from turning to mud.
Now you will need to make the time for the project, schedule a day, round up some help and have a wheelbarrow and shovel available for each person helping with the project.
If you need help with this project please check out our Featured Services page for a landscaper near you.

Aeration

Aeration is the process of pulling plugs from the ground of a lawn for the purpose of making holes or passageways in compact soil for air, water and fertilizer to make their way to the root system of your lawn. It is recommended to aerate a lawn once per season usually in the fall. Most fertilizing companies offer aeration as an option with their fertilizing programs.

An aerator machine is sort of similar to a tiller in the fact that it usually has a rotating group of tines, only these tines do not turn the soil like a tiller, but make holes in the ground instead. These plug pullers automatically fill with soil as weight and pressure are applied to them and they are inserted into the ground. On the very next insertion the soil in the tine is ejected by the force of the new incoming soil and the process is continuously repeated. These plugs then lay on top of the soil and will eventually break down over time and dissolve.
If your lawn could use a little re – seeding now would be a good time to do it since this process creates so loose soil on the surface of the ground that will help to promote the growth of the new seed.
If you have never aerated your lawn or if your fertilizing company does not offer aeration service then you may find a landscaper on the Featured Listings page or a fertilizing company on the Specialized Services page of our site.

French Drain

Are there are areas in your lawn that are saturated with water after a good rain? Is the lawn soft and muddy too often? Are there visible pools and or puddles that form after a rain? Do you have any steep slopes or hills behind your property?
If you answered yes to any of these questions you may need to install a french drain to remove the excess water from your lawn or foundation.
A french drain basically consists of a trench about a foot wide that is about a foot deep at the beginning where the water lies. The trench should go in a down hill direction when possible or away from the saturated area and will usually become gradually deeper to create a grade at the bottom to encourage the water to flow away from the saturated area.
This trench will then be lined from one end to the other with a length of 6″ corrugated plastic drain pipe, then the trench will be filled with gravel. It is also a good idea to spend a few extra dollars here and have the trench lined with a good landscape fabric of geo grid fabric before installing the pipe or gravel.
What this fabric does is filter the soil to prevent it from filling and clogging the gaps between the rocks prematurely causing the drain to fail. It is well worth the extra cost and will extend the life of the drainage system.
After the french drain is installed the top would be covered with a layer of soil and the sod which was removed in the beginning would be replaced if possible or if necessary the area would be re – seeded.
When digging any length of trench more 10 or 20 feet you may want to consider using a small backhoe or a trencher machine to make the work go a little easier and quicker.
It is also best to call your local ” stop before you dig ” hotline and have the local utility companies mark the areas of your property where the gas, water, sewage, electric, phone or cable lines may be under the surface so they will not be damaged when digging.
If you would like a FREE ESTIMATE from a professional then please take a look at of Featured Listings page for landscapers in your area that could help you with the project.

Gravel

Mulch is nice but it usually needs to be replaced yearly for best results. This can get to be expensive over time especially if you have large areas to cover. As a low maintenance solution you may want to consider replacing it with some type of gravel.
Gravel comes in many shapes, sizes and textures it is somewhat heavier and harder to work with than mulch but once it is in place it will last a lifetime. Just as mulch does it will provide a cover from the hot sun, keeping your soil in the beds moist longer.
Another nice benefit of gravel is that it will not wash away or deteriorate like mulch does. even if you have a leaky gutter for example and the water is just pouring onto the ground very hard in one spot, the gravel will withstand the concentrated water flow and prevent the soil from being washed away. Gravel will take the abuse of heavy rains and not be washed away.
The actual cost of basic river rock gravel is relatively cheap, it is the work and preparation that is a little more expensive. When you get into the fancier more colorful gravels then things get to be more expensive. Remember the gravel is permanent and will remain where you put it for many years to come so make sure you like how it looks before you buy it.
There are a wide variety of choices when it comes to different types of decorative gravel. Many different colors and textures occur naturally and you also have a choice ofstonemarble and brick chip sizes too. The fancier the stone usually the more expensive it is, but remember this is permanent so pick something that you really like.
The only type of material that I do not recommend is lava rock. Many people like it because for its red color which is sort of a brick red and also because it is very light weight and easy to work with. I do not recommend this type of stone because it is too light weight and actually floats so in a heavy rain or strong winds it has a tendency to to blow or wash away into your lawn onto your driveway, walkways and other places that it does not belong.
This can be especially annoying and somewhat of a safety hazard when you suddenly hit some of the stones while operating your lawn mower, dulling the blades and shooting them out as projectiles. If you really like the red color but don’t want to be cleaning them up quite frequently then you may prefer to use red brick chips instead. The color is about the same it is just the weight and texture that is different.
On a budget? Then just plain old naturally smooth, rounded or oval shapes may just be your best bet. River rock also comes in a wide variety of sizes from pea sized to 3/4 inch to #1, #2, #3 etc….. to baseball or softball size and bigger. These sizes are commonly found at most landscape supply companies.
River rock looks pretty drab in color, sort of a greyish brown when you see it in stock at your local landscape supply and this is because the stones usually are covered with some degree of dirt, dust or mud sediment and need to be washed off with a hose or by swishing them around in a cup or can of water in order to see their true colors. So many times if you look at the top of the pile just after a good rain you will see the true natural tones of the stones. If this is not possible then you may want to ask the supplier for a cup or can of water to mix some stones into to clean them for a better look before you make a purchase decision.
Once you have chosen the type of stone you would like to see in your landscape you may want to visit our Featured Listings page to employ the expertise of the right landscaper to do all the preparation and hard work
for you.

De – Thatching

De – Thatching is a term used to describe the process of removing thatch build up in a lawn. If you have ever had a house plant with a dead leaf that just kept hanging there dead, brown, ugly and would not fall off the plant and you needed to take a pair of scissors and cut it off, then you will better understand thatch build up. This same thing happens to all the little individual grass plants in your lawn each season and also sometimes in one area more than another.
When it is hot and dry the grass will grow surface roots on top of the ground so as to be able to absorb any light rains or early morning dew. Once the weather conditions change and there is sufficient rainfall then these surface roots just die off turn brown and hang there still attached to the grass plant.
This may occur in some areas more than other depending on high spots, low areas soil drainage and other different soil conditions within the lawn areas. When too much thatch builds up it is much more noticeable creating brown or grayish colored patches in the lawn.
A  good de – thatching machine or power rake as it is sometimes called is the best tool for the job and can be used to cut those dead roots off separating them from the rest of the healthy green plants in the lawn. A de – thatcher will also help to remove moss build up too to a degree. If you are seeking to remove more moss than thatch then you may want to consider using a renovator type machine which uses 1/2 inch steel blocks that spin at high speed on a shaft instead rather than the finer more narrow knife blades used in a De – thatcher.
Before you use the de – thatcher you will want to use your lawnmower first to cut the lawn lower than you normally do and bag it. With the de – thatcher machine off you will want to set the height adjustment so that the blades touch the soil surface. You will operate the de – thatcher machine much like you would a lawnmower making slightly overlapping passes back and forth across the lawn only with much more caution, because unlike a lawnmower the blades make direct contact with the soil there fore you must be aware of high spots and dangerous objects like metal gas and water shut off valves, sewer lids and lawn sprinkler heads.
There may also be obstacles that you don’t see that are lying just below the surface of the ground like electrical or cable wires and tree roots. The one’s that you don’t see can be just as dangerous or even more so than the one’s you do see because when the high speed spinning blades come in contact with them it can easily and abruptly push the machine and blades right over top of your feet and the end result would not be good if this happened so pleas be careful.
When you start using the machine you will soon notice piles of dead material coming out of the lawn. If your lawn has never been de – thatched before you could end up with a considerable amount of debris. Once you have covered the entire lawn going back and forth in one direction clean up the debris with a metal leaf rake and then turn the machine and make passes now in the opposite direction making a waffle like pattern in the lawn for optimum results.
Once you clean up the debris from the second pass this would be an good time to re – seed the lawn since there will be a thin layer of loose soil on top of the ground which creates an ideal environment for the new seed to grow. If you decide to pick up some grass seed and take advantage of this opportunity you will also want to get some mushroom manure also to top it with.
Mushroom manure does three things it covers the new seed to keep moisture in each time it is watered, it provides a natural fertilizer and third it helps to keep the birds away so they don’t eat all the seed.
When spreading the mushroom manure you can shake it off the end of a wide flat coal shovel or sprinkle it on by hand. Try both methods and use the one that is easiest for you. The goal here is to lightly coat the surface of the ground just enough to cover. If there is too much manure in any areas this could make it more difficult for the delicate new seedlings to sprout up.
Once you are done covering the entire lawn you will want to water twice a day if possible for about two weeks most of the seed should have germinated by this time and then water at least once a day for another week after that. When you water avoid ever spraying directly onto the surface because the water pressure can blast the seed away and leave bare spots. You want to spray the water up in the air so that if falls to the ground like it would in a natural rain fall.
De – thatching an entire lawn can be a lot of hard work as well as re – seeding and topping also. If you are considering hiring a pro to do this job for you then please visit our Featured Listings page where you will find a few qualified landscaper near you who will provide you with a free estimate.

Low Maintenance

Several things can be done in order to achieve a low maintenance landscape. First of all you may want to consider using a professional grade landscape fabric material or “Weed Block ” as it is usually called in your beds under the mulch. This will prevent a lot of weeds from getting established in your beds and in turn save you a lot of time doing manual weeding and also money if you are paying someone to do this several times a year.
I have seen people that try to save a few dollars and use plastic sheeting or roll instead, trust me this is not a good idea. As I drove to work one morning I saw some guys in my neighborhood cover a fairly large steep slope with plastic and then mulch. When I returned home later that evening I passed the house again and It looked wonderful when they were done. That same night we got some heavy rain and when I drove by again the next morning I am sorry, but I just had to laugh because all of the mulch was no longer on the hill it was however all over the sidewalk and in the street instead. It was one of those I told you so moments.
This is why sometimes it is better to pay a professional who has more experience and knowledge in the matter. Professional landscapers do these types of things on a regular basis and can most times finish the job much quicker too. They have the right tools & equipment, are also most likely to be up to date on the latest, best new innovative products, trends and installation methods too.
There are considerable differences between plastic sheeting or roll and weed block material. Plastic is non porous so it prohibits air and water from flowing through it, while weed block material does not. First of all using plastic around your plants can actually prevent air and water flow to the roots and can even lead to their demise in severe instances. Second, during a heavy rain mulch laying on top of plastic will float, go with the flow and be washed away. This will happen even quicker if the mulch covered plastic is on a slope or grade.
Professional quality weed block on the other hand is specifically designed to allow air and water to flow through it but at the same time stop any weed seeds that may happen to sprout beneath it from growing through it. It is a known fact that certain types of weed seeds can remain dormant in the soil for as long as 100 years just awaiting the ideal conditions to sprout, this is why they can be such a nuisance.
good quality weed block material  will have a surface texture that is somewhat abrasive and not too smooth or slippery like plastic so it will help to hold the mulch better to keep it from sliding away as easily. Especially on a slope or hill water will quickly flow through and under the weed block instead of on top like plastic does. The only way mulch will wash away when on top of the porous weed block is if the ground below is extremely compacted, mostly clay, or otherwise completely saturated to the point where it cannot sustain any more water.
I have seen a good quality thick landscape fabric hold up and maintain its integrity for more than 25 years. The fabric should always remain sufficiently covered with mulch, gravel or some other material as to never be exposed to direct sunlight for any prolonged period, otherwise just like plastic the ultraviolet rays from the sun will make it break down, become thin, weak and eventually fall apart and fail to serve its purpose.
As long as you maintain a uniform thickness of at least 2 to three inches of some type of mulch or gravel it will serve its purpose for many years to come.
Economical black plastic edging would most likely be the next thing to seriously consider installing around your beds and can be purchased in various lengths and thicknesses at most home improvement stores. Once you manually dig the edge separating your beds from your lawn and actually see for yourself the time and labor that can be involved, then you may seriously consider installing the plastic edging so you won’t have to do it all over again next year. If you normally pay someone to weed the grass out of the edges of the beds or to manually edge every year then you will really appreciate this money saving product.
And last but not least the biggest money saver of all gravel, yes you read that right, gravel. Mulch is extremely popular these days for several reasons. It looks nice, is natural, comes in a variety of colors, helps keep the moisture in around plants, helps deter the growth of weeds to an extent, is light weight and easy to work with and provides an aroma when fresh that some find to be pleasant.
The biggest negative aspects of using mulch is the fact that it fades, rots away and needs to be replenished every year. Depending on the number and sizes of your beds the replacement cost can get to be expensive.
It can also attract termites and other undesirable insects and be washed away in a heavy downpour of rain. When the decomposed mulch builds up under the surface it also provides more favorable conditions for weeds to grow.
This is where gravel comes in. Basically gravel can serve the same purpose which is to cover a bed to keep the moisture in, deter weeds from growing and to look nice. Plain river rock gravel is smooth, rounded and oval in shape, is very reasonably priced and comes in a wide variety of stone sizes. More interesting textures and varieties of colored stones, marble, and brick chips are readily available but are considerably more expensive.
It may be more expensive initially to install but after it is done consider the fact that its a permanent solution and you will not be replacing it every year. Think of how much money you will save each year and you will not have to worry about it attracting insects, promoting weed growth, fading, rotting, blowing or washing away.
This is a more permanent solution and not recommended for beds that you plant flowers in every year or change plants in frequently. You can also be creative and have various smaller mulch areas within the gravel bed itself. So if you like you can have both,
Please refer to our Featured Listings page to find local professionals who will be glad to help you make your landscape more low maintenance.

Shrub Trimming

On average most good quality varieties of hedges and bushes usually need trimmed twice a year although some people may prefer and certain bushes may require it three times in a season.
Most evergreens like Yews, Junipers, Rhododendrons, Hollies and Azaleas for example  usually only need trimming two times in a season. Non evergreens are usually faster growing like Burning bushes, Barberry bushes  and different types of privet hedges for example.
These faster growing types may need a little more maintenance during the growing season to keep them looking neat.
Shrub trimming can be very time consuming especially if you have a lot of them in your landscape. If they are neglected then even more work will be required. Once the trimming is done then there is the clean up and disposal of the debris.
You may just want to hire a professional to take care of this for you. No need to look any further than our Featured Listings page to find qualified and experienced professionals that will be happy to give you a FREE ESTIMATE!