Northern Ohio Summer Lawn Care: Kentucky Bluegrass

Northern Ohio Summer Lawn Care: Kentucky Bluegrass

Not all grasses are created equal. Out of all of the different grass species that exist, only a handful may be suitable for a particular region. And each type requires different care to make your yard look its best. Some of the grass types recommended for use in Northern Ohio include Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, bentgrass, tall fescue, and fine fescue, but Kentucky bluegrass is the most popular for its hardy traits and attractive appearance.

Benefits of Kentucky Bluegrass

Known for its color, density, and fine texture, Kentucky bluegrass is well-suited to Ohio’s soil and climate. Capable of withstanding extreme temperatures, it is winter hardy, resistant to some grass diseases, able to recover quickly from damage, and has a long life when cared for properly. This high-quality grass species produces underground stems, called rhizomes, which help it spread and heal itself quickly.

Kentucky bluegrass also requires proper maintenance. Some varieties require regular fertilizers and irrigation to keep a lush appearance, while others don’t do well in deep shade. Often, several bluegrass seed varieties are mixed together to create a stronger blend that’s able to address these issues.

Lawn Care Tips for Kentucky Bluegrass

  • Mowing – Kentucky bluegrass is best when its mowing height is kept somewhere between 2 and 2-1/2 inches. This helps the grass retain moisture and keep a dense base. Make sure mower blades are kept sharp for a clean cut, and never cut off more than 1/3 of a grass blade during each mowing.
  • Feeding/Fertilization – Fertilizer provides soil with supplemental nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to help your lawn thrive. However, improper fertilizing can cause problems like iron chlorosis, which occurs when there is a higher level of phosphorus mixed into the fertilizer than the bluegrass needs. Feeding a bluegrass lawn requires approximately 3 to 6 lbs of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet annually. This should be divided into 3 or 4 applications a year, depending on the level of maintenance your lawn requires.
  • Watering – Kentucky bluegrass is not a drought-tolerant grass and can become dormant during extremely dry periods. Fortunately, it is very resilient and often recovers without damage. In order to maintain its lush, green appearance, the grass should be watered two times a week during the summer months if there is no rain.
  • Keep it healthy –The best defense against any lawn disease, weeds, and harmful insects is proper maintenance. Kentucky bluegrass can fall prey to lawn diseases such as powdery mildew, snow mold, brown patch, fairy ring, and red thread. When this type of grass is properly cared for, it tends to grow dense enough to keep weeds from invading.
  • Better blending – Many lawn-care issues can be avoided by using a mix of Kentucky bluegrass seed varieties. There are many blends available, each one created to solve particular challenges, like shade and drought intolerance. If you are unsure which blend is best for your lawn, ask a professional.

Selecting the proper type of grass is crucial when establishing your lawn—after all, it is the foundation of your landscaping. Call Free Spray Lawn Care today at [phone] to consult with professionals who can help keep your lawn healthy and well maintained.

 

Tips to Keep Summer Pests out of the House

Tips to Keep Summer Pests out of the House

Summer is around the corner and with it comes sun, fun, fresh air, and yes, bugs. As the temperatures rise, the tendency for outdoor pests to become unwanted guests inside your home also goes up. Fortunately, there are ways you can still have the sun and fun, but keep summer pests outside, where they belong.

The Usual Suspects

These are just some of the common pests that may be planning an unwelcome visit to your home when the weather gets warmer:

  • Ants / Carpenter Ants / Fire Ants
  • Mosquitoes
  • Bed Bugs
  • Bees and Wasps
  • Flies
  • Roaches
  • Fleas and Ticks

While some pests like bees, wasps, and fire ants are guilty of giving itchy or even painful bites, other bugs like termites and carpenter ants can cause major structural damage to your home. And mosquitoes have been a huge concern lately for carrying dangerous diseases. At best, a pest is just that—an annoyance.

How to Keep Summer Pests Out

First things first, try to maintain a clean home, and continue to clean frequently. Some pests, like ants, leave a scent trail to let other ants know to follow. By cleaning often you will get rid of these trails. Other tips for the inside of your house:

  • Never leave food out. Store leftovers in airtight containers
  • Wipe down counters after cooking
  • Get rid of crumbs. Eat at the table, not on the sofa where you can’t always see the crumbs you leave behind
  • Empty the garbage regularly
  • Don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink
  • Eliminate piles of papers, books, or boxes where bugs can hide

Keep summer pests out of your yard and they are less likely to enter your home. Some tips for the outside:

  • Get rid of standing water. Birdbaths, over-turned containers, puddles, and clogged gutters can become breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
  • Keep garbage and recycling containers covered tightly and as far away from the house as possible. Make sure recyclables are rinsed well.
  • Don’t stack firewood against the exterior walls of the house.
  • Use nature’s repellents. The scent of certain plants, like mint and rosemary, tend to keep bugs away. And geraniums and lemongrass contain citronella oil, a natural bug repellent. You can even plant citronella plants in your yard.
  • Use LED bulbs in exterior lights. Bugs are less attracted to them, and therefore less likely to hang around your door.

More ways to stop pesky intruders from entering your home:

  • Close up any small openings or holes around the house. Use caulk around air conditioning units, window frames, and dryer vents. If air or light can come through, so can pests.
  • Put fine mesh screens in all your windows. Repair any holes on existing screens.
  • Use store-bought or homemade traps to attract and eliminate ants, roaches, or flies.
  • Take chalk and draw a line around windows and door openings. It’s not clear why, but ants refuse to crawl over chalk lines.
  • Remind family members and guests that you don’t live in a barn. Doors should be opened and closed quickly so as not to give bugs an opportunity to enter.

Whether your pests are creepy crawlers, flying annoyances, or nasty nibblers, you want them to remain where they belong—outside. Call Free Spray Lawn Care today at [phone] to find out how we can protect you, your family, and your home from unwanted pests.

Lawn Weed Library: Bittercress

Lawn Weed Library: Bittercress

A member of the mustard family, bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) is also known as hairy bittercress, land cress, flick weed, and shot weed. Although it may look lovely with its petite white flowers, it can quickly invade your landscaping if it goes unchecked. Its ability to spread profusely makes it a quick enemy of homeowners and gardeners. However, bittercress is not hated by all–some people find this edible annual tasty as a salad green or cooking ingredient due to its bitter, peppery flavor.

Why Be Bitter About Bittercress?

Common in the damp, recently disturbed soils of gardens and well-watered lawns, moisture-loving bittercress is one of the earliest flowering weeds in springtime. With its tiny white flowers, this fast-wandering weed is sometimes mistaken for a harmless plant. But don’t let it fool you—bittercress is a master of disguise that is small enough to hide among your garden plants or go undetected in your landscaping at first. And those pretty flowers? They turn into problematic pods that explosively spread seeds up to 10 feet away from the parent plant. Just one or two of the plants can quickly start an invasion.

Bittercress Signs and Symptoms

Because bittercress spreads so quickly, immediate identification and eradication is necessary. Here are some characteristics to help you identify it:

  • A circular formation of leaves (basal rosette) at the bottom of the plant
  • 3” to 9” wiry stems that can reach a height of 12” under the right conditions
  • Tiny white flowers, each with four petals, top the stems and grow in clusters
  • The flowers turn into a narrow silique, or seed pod, approximately 3/4″ to 1-1/4” long
  • Pairs of hairy rounded leaves (you’ll need to look close to see the fine hair)

Bittercress Prevention

Control for this fast-spreading weed must begin early in the season before the flowers turn into seed pods that are like ticking bombs. Fortunately, bittercress has a shallow root system, so you can pull it out from the ground by hand or small hoe. The trick is to get it before the flowers turn to seed pods. If it has already seeded, use a plastic bag to surround it before you pull it to prevent the seeds from spreading.

Keeping your lawn lush and well-maintained is important. Weeds easily find their way in thin or patchy areas of grass, so you can help prevent invasions by keeping your lawn healthy. Use mulch around landscape plants to help prevent the seeds from taking root in the soil.

Severe bittercress infestations require a weed control treatment. If you suspect that bittercress is about to make a mess of your lawn, contact Free Spray Lawn Care at [phone] for professional assistance in eradicating unwanted weeds.

Is Ohio Soil Acidic?

Is Ohio Soil Acidic?

Your lawn is a living thing, and just like all living things, it needs the proper nutrients to thrive. It gets these nutrients from the ground, so healthy soil is a must. However, even if your soil has plenty of nutrients, it also requires right amount of acidity in order to provide your grass with good nourishment.

What Is Acidity?

Healthy soils start with the proper soil acidity or alkalinity. The right level determines how well the roots are able to absorb nutrients. Soil acidity is measured in pH, ranging from 0 for the most acidic to 14, which is the least acidic. If the pH is too high or too low, plants and grasses won’t be able to process nutrients effectively. Here are some facts about pH:

  • Acidic soils have a pH below 7.0
  • Alkaline soils have a pH above 7.0
  • pH-neutral soil, which is around 7.0, is a good target
  • A pH less than 5.0 is too acidic for healthy lawn growth
  • Most plants and grasses do well in neutral soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.0
  • There are actually some plants that prefer more acidic soil

Is Ohio Soil Acidic?

A region’s soil pH level is determined by its composition and climate. The rock formations below the earth’s surface slowly erode over time to create the soil where we plant our gardens and grow our lawns. These geological foundations provide clues to a soil’s pH characteristics in a particular region. For instance, limestone tends to create soils that are more alkaline, while sandstone produces more acidic soil. Generally speaking, the western side of the state of Ohio has more limestone, while the eastern half has more sandstone.

But a region’s soil can vary from one small area to the next, so the best way to figure out the pH level is through proper testing. A soil test reveals whether your soil is alkaline, acidic, or neutral, and once you know this, you can fine-tune it to the pH level that works best for what you want to grow. You can get soil-testing kits at many garden centers, but for the most accurate results contact a professional.

In order for your grass to be green on top it needs to get the proper nutrients from below. To find out more on how to keep your soil healthy, contact Free Spray Lawn Care today at [phone].