5 Maintenance Tips for a Beautiful and Healthy Lawn & Landscape
Are you on our Soil Building program? If so, then you know that we visit your landscape throughout the year to apply organic compost tea extract, worm castings, humic acid and other amendments to keep your soil alive and healthy. Healthy soil is the key to healthy lawns and landscapes. However, in between our visits, its up to you to partner with us to maintain the health of your landscape — be it proper mowing, planting, pruning and a host of other tasks. While we’ll make sure your soil is in the best possible shape to support your plants, and provide supplemental fertilization, we rely on you to execute the physical landscape maintenance.
We know that there is a lot of conflicting information out there about how to properly maintain your lawn. There are a lot of mow & go’s out there that might give the impression that they know what they’re doing. However, many of these companies simply don’t have the technical knowledge to back up their services. We see poor and improper maintenance methods employed in our client’s landscapes on a daily basis.
These are just a few examples of why quality ongoing landscape maintenance is so important.
- How has your maintenance company set your irrigation clock? Most often, they have you watering far too often for short periods of time. This type of shallow, frequent watering damages your landscape plants and can cause a host of diseases.
- Are they cleaning the blades of their mowing equipment between yards? Probably not. That means that during brown spot season, they’re probably spreading the disease to many of their own client’s yards.
- How about your trees? It’s easy to want to go with the cheapest pruning quote. Unfortunately, you get what you pay for when it comes to tree care. Poorly pruned trees become weak and susceptible to storm damage and disease. Sadly, you may not be made aware of this until the next ice storm, when you lose your precious tree.
- Are you trying to grow a lawn in shade? No amount of fertilizer or extra water can make turf grasses thrive in heavy shade. Planting the right plants in the right place is rule #1 for creating a successful landscape.
Here are a few key lawn and landscape maintenance tips to help you keep your property beautiful and healthy:
Mowing: Keeping your lawn at the right height throughout the year is imperative! Over-mowing is a common occurrence in our area as people strive to have the perfect lawn. However, if you love your lawn too much by over-mowing, you could damage the crown of the grass or allow roots to burn by mowing too short. You never want to mow your grass more than 1/3 of the existing grass blade. When you do, it shocks the plant, especially when it’s hot outside. Cutting your grass too short also reduces water retention, meaning you’ll have to water more. Plus, when plants are in stress, they attract more pests and diseases. Bermudagrass should be mowed to 1 ½” to 1 ¾” , St. Augustine can be mowed to 3-3 ½ ” tall and Tiff mowed to 1” tall. Grass at this height will absorb more sunlight, retain more water and shade out potential weeds.
Planting: Proper planting of trees and shrubs is key to long-term health. Planting too deeply and covering the crown of the root ball can smother your plants be it a large tree, a medium sized shrub or a four-inch transplant. Most plants prefer to be planted with their growing crown even with the soil line or just above it. When planting trees, plant directly into the native soil in a hole just as deep as the root ball and twice as wide. There is no need to amend the soil in the planting hole for trees. This same planting depth rule also applies to annuals and perennials except for these plants you’ll want to amend your bedding soil with organic compost.
Weeding: Yes, weeding. If you are working an all organic maintenance program, some weeds will always be present as a monoculture lawn isn’t natural. You can actually learn quite a lot about your soil based on what weeds are growing on your property. While you can control many of the weeds by increasing the health of your soil and lawn, occasional hand removal is usually needed. Remember that weeds make great food for the compost pile. To maintain a chemical-free landscape, you can also apply spot treatments of 20% vinegar. No lawn and garden will be 100% weed free, but pulling them is great exercise, gives the kids a job, and gets you out in your garden! Learn more about weeds at our ID Guide!
Watering: Keeping your lawn and gardens properly watered is one of the most crucial elements of a healthy landscape here in North Texas. Overwater your lawn and you could cause fungal diseases and subsequent pest infestations. Water too little and your lawn goes into decline, which also attracts pests. We talk about proper watering on our blog quite a bit because we want to keep it simple for all our readers. A good rule of thumb is to provide the equivalent of 1-inch of rainfall per week using your irrigation system. A good way to figure out how long you’ll need to run each irrigation zone to apply 1-inch worth of water is to set out a tuna can or rain gauge in each zone. Once the can is filled with 1-inch of water, you’ll know how long to run each zone. Remember that while you may have to water in winter months, you don’t need to water as much. Often, natural rainfall provides what plants need. If it hasn’t rained in 2-3 weeks during winter months, be sure to run your system. During the hottest part of the summer, you may need to increase the duration of your watering times to provide a deeper watering. For more on watering your lawn, go here.
Inspect: The easiest advice we can give you when it comes to keeping your lawn and garden healthy is to spend a little time in it. Get up close and personal with your plants. Look at the leaves and turn them over to see what’s underneath; touch your soil; look closely at your grass; take a close look at the roots of your trees. By inspecting your plants, you may notice pests or diseases before they become a bigger problem. The best defenses against pests and diseases in your landscape are a healthy soil and early diagnosis. You can always refer to our Resource Guide to identify insects, diseases and look for organic landscape advice.
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