The Benefits of Aerating Your Lawn

The Benefits of Aerating Your Lawn

When it comes to basic lawn maintenance, people tend to think that mowing, watering, and fertilizing are the only items on the agenda. But tackling these basics may not be enough to achieve the beautiful, lush results you desire. Read on to learn about the benefits of aerating your lawn.

What Is Aeration?

We all see it from time to time – a neighbor’s yard covered with small holes. Have you ever wondered how these holes came to be? Or maybe you know the lawn is aerated, but never knew exactly what that meant. Well, the mystery is about to be unveiled. These perforated properties have been aerated. Aeration is a process that allows water, air, and nutrients to better reach the root systems of plants and grasses. Breaking up the soil by puncturing it with a series of holes allows your lawn breathe a little, and you will reap the benefits in its appearance and health.

The Benefits of Aerating a Lawn

Simply put, aerating promotes grass growth. When grass grows in compacted soil, roots don’t receive enough nutrients, water, or air. Lawns can also have too much thatch. Thatch is an accumulation of dead grass and debris just above the soil. A thin layer of it is beneficial, but if the layer is more than 1/2 inch, it blocks out sunlight, air, water, and nutrients as well. Aeration breaks up thatch and compact soil, and therefore, helps your lawn in the following ways:

  • Improves the soil’s intake of nutrients.
  • Allows more oxygen to reach the roots.
  • Enhances water absorption.
  • Minimizes water runoff issues and puddling.
  • Reduces maintenance requirements.
  • Helps reduce stress from drought and heat.
  • Strengthens root systems.

Does Your Lawn Need Aerating?

The aeration process is an efficient way to improve your soil’s health. A lawn that experiences heavy foot traffic, frequent romps from pets, and daily playtime with kids is in need of this process more often than one that is just for show. Aerate a well-traveled lawn at least once or twice a year, even if it is just in the areas that need it most. Healthy lawns can benefit from an annual aeration as well.

The How and When of Aerating

Aeration, also known as core aeration, soil cultivation, coring, or spiking, uses special equipment with tines to create holes in the soil. The tines can be solid (spike aerators) or hollow (plug aerators). The hollow ones tend to have better results, because they actually pull out a plug of soil. The holes should be up to four inches deep and and two-to-three inches apart.

After aeration, the lawn is perforated with holes and may have small soil plugs scattered about. These plugs eventually disintegrate and blend back into the lawn. In a week or two, you should notice an improvement in the turf’s health.

Aerate cool season turf grasses like Kentucky bluegrass and ryegrass in the spring or fall. Aerate warm season grasses like zoysia and Bermuda from the middle of spring through summer. It’s best to apply fertilizer afterwards.

To find out more about the benefits of aeration and the proper techniques for your yard, call a trained expert today. Contact Free Spray Lawn Care at [phone] and let us help you discover a lush, healthy lawn.

Lawn Weed Library: Oxalis

Lawn Weed Library: Oxalis

Sometimes mistaken for clover, oxalis is an invasive perennial weed that is difficult to eradicate. This flowering plant may be pretty enough to perk up your landscaping, but once it’s in your yard it spreads rapidly, taking over gardens, lawns, and even potted plants. Oxalis flourishes in many areas across North America and although it’s very tolerant of shade, it also grows well in full sun with adequate moisture. Edible in small amounts, some species are known as sourgrass because of their acidic content and sour, citrusy flavor.

Identifying Oxalis

There are somewhere between 800 and 900 species of oxalis, but the wood sorrels (Oxalis corniculata) are the the largest and most well known. Other common names for this wild weed are creeping woodsorrel, yellow woodsorrel, yellow oxalis, and false shamrock due to its three heart-shaped leaves. Although yellow is the most familiar, some species have purple, white, or pink flowers.

Oxalis Signs and Symptoms

Oxalis blooms from mid-spring well into fall. Its petite five-petal flowers and leaves range in color from pale green to purplish green. The low-growing plants have a fibrous root system that’s difficult to dig out in entirety. Although its stems root where they touch the ground, this aggressive plant spreads mostly by seeds that are discharged from pods. Each plant generates up to 5,000 seeds that are then ejected from the ripe pods up to a distance of 10 feet. The leaves of the wood sorrel fold up at night, or when under stress, and reopen in the morning.

Oxalis Management and Prevention

Oxalis quickly takes over lawns that are sparse, poorly maintained, or damaged from insects or disease. So, the first step in preventing a weed invasion is to keep your yard well-maintained.

  • Regularly feed or fertilize your lawn to keep it at its healthiest.
  • Mow your lawn at the proper height. This encourages a well-developed root system and thick, lush turf that won’t let weeds take over.
  • Don’t overwater – frequent light watering encourages the weed’s growth. Rely on the rain or use only one inch of water with a hose or sprinkler.
  • Use mulch in gardens, borders, and plant beds to control weed growth.

If you find this weed in its early stages, you may be able to pull it out by hand. This is very tricky, though, because the root systems are very intricate and often part of it gets left behind. Another reason this method is not always successful is that the weed must be pulled before it flowers and sets seed. If it has developed seed pods, be sure to remove them carefully so they don’t burst and disperse the seeds. Carefully dispose of the pods in a sealed garbage bag.

When dealing with an invasion of oxalis, you may need to use a chemical weed killer. Finding the right one is a challenge since some species are resistant to certain chemicals. Try a broadleaf weed herbicide such as glyphosate. Or for an organic option, use a chelated iron product. Oxalis can not tolerate an overload of iron.

If you want to learn more about identifying and controlling oxalis or other weeds, contact Free Spray Lawn Care at [phone].

Do-It-Yourself Home Remedies for Fleas

Do-It-Yourself Home Remedies for Fleas

If you own a pet, it’s inevitable that at some point you will come into contact with fleas. Whether you find a flea on your pet, in your home, or in your yard, you’ll need to act quick because these parasitic pests multiply fast. You won’t always have chemicals on hand to treat a flea problem, and even if you did, chemicals can be dangerous if used incorrectly. And perhaps you rather go the more natural route anyway. Either way, it’s good to have a few do-it-yourself home remedies for fleas up your sleeve.

Home Remedies for Fleas on Your Pet

You’ve found a flea on your furry friend and you are ready to handle it with a home remedy. Here are some suggestions to fight fleas without using harsh chemicals.

It’s not necessary to run out and buy special shampoos to rid your pet of fleas. Give your four-legged pal a bath using dish detergent. Or you can use a common shampoo like Head and Shoulders to kill off the pests. Start scrubbing your dog or cat on the neck area to prevent fleas from seeking higher ground on the head.

Make your own treatments like flea sprays or repellents. Apple cider vinegar naturally repels fleas. Mix warm water with apple cider vinegar (2/3 cup warm water to one cup vinegar) and add in 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Use a spray bottle to apply this mixture to your pet once a week, making sure to coat the fur and underbelly.

You can also create your own flea collars using essential oils like citronella, lavender, or eucalyptus. Simply add a few drops of the oil to your dog’s collar or to a bandana that you place around his neck. If you do this weekly, it should help keep away uninvited guests.

Home Remedies for Fleas in Your House

If you’ve found a flea on your pet, chances are they are taking up residence in your home. Fleas like to make themselves comfy in your carpets, furniture upholstery, and bedding materials. When this happens, your new best friend is likely to be your vacuum cleaner or dryer.

A thorough vacuuming helps get rid of fleas as well as their larvae and eggs. But you can use some common household ingredients like salt or boric acid to make this method more effective. Sprinkle one of these ingredients all over infested carpets and fabrics, using a brush or broom to work it in deep. Wait a day or two, and then thoroughly vacuum again. You may need to repeat this process. Remember to completely seal up the vacuum bag each time and dispose of it  outside immediately.

Treat your pet’s bedding, and yours if necessary, by washing it and running it through the dryer on high heat for at least 20 minutes. This should kill fleas, larvae, and eggs.

Set up dehumidifiers in an infested room. Fleas like a humid environment and by using a dehumidifier, you make your home less inviting for them. After a couple of days, vacuum thoroughly to get rid of the dead insects and any remaining eggs.

Home Remedies for Fleas in the Yard

Your furry friend probably found fleas in the great outdoors, and sometimes that means as close as your own yard. Battling these blood-sucking bugs in your backyard doesn’t have to involve chemicals. There are do-it-yourself solutions to help.

First, clean up your yard. When you get rid of empty plant pots, old outdoor furniture, and piles of leaves or rubbish, you take away places where fleas like to hide and lay eggs. Mow, trim, and prune to make sure it’s a sunny environment instead of a shady moist one.

The smell of cedar wood chips naturally repels fleas. Use the wood chips in with your mulch or create a border around the yard to discourage pests from hanging around.

Wash away fleas and their eggs by making your own flood. If you think your yard is infested, give it a good soaking with the hose.

Let us help you keep your home free of fleas and other pests. Contact Free Spray Lawn Care today at [phone].

The Proper Mowing Height in Fall for Northern Ohio

The Proper Mowing Height in Fall for Northern Ohio

When it comes to mowing a lawn, may people think it’s just a matter of pushing around the mower. But there’s much more to mowing – it’s the one task that can have the most drastic effect on your lawn’s well-being and appearance. One of the most commonly asked landscaping questions is about the proper grass mowing height in fall. Just how low do you go?

Why Measured Mowing Is Important

Cutting grass promotes healthy growth. When it’s properly mowed, a lawn has healthier, deeper root systems underneath and less weeds on top. It’s also better able to withstand heat, drought, and diseases. And of course, it looks so much nicer!

The easiest way to damage your lawn is to cut the grass too short. Called scalping, cutting grass too close prevents it from being able to perform the photosynthesis process it needs to survive. This depletes the turf’s energy sources and causes stress, leaving the lawn vulnerable to browning and bare spots, or worse, disease and weed invasion. If you are uncertain how short to cut the lawn, err on the side of leaving it higher. Also, taller grass keeps the soil from drying out so it’s best to leave your lawn a little longer in the hotter months.

How Low Do You Go?

The proper mowing height depends on three factors: time of year, type of grass, and the growing environment. As long as your lawn is growing, you should keep mowing it. Sticking to a strict schedule, like cutting the grass every Sunday, does not take into consideration weather conditions, such as rain or drought, which determines the amount of growth that will occur during that period. The height of the grass blades is the main factor for determining when to mow. The best approach is to know what type of turf you have, find out its proper height, then cut it by the one-third rule: never remove more than one third of the grass blade during one cutting.

The Right Mowing Height in Fall for Northern Ohio

The type of turfs most commonly used in Ohio are usually cool-season grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, fine fescue, and tall fescue. Kentucky bluegrass tends to be the most popular turf in the state because of its fine texture and durability. For cool-season grasses, the most active growth periods are during the spring and fall.
On average, the suggested height for grass in Northern Ohio is 2 to 3 inches in the spring and fall and 3 or more inches in the summer. Use these guidelines for each specific turf type in the spring and fall:

Kentucky bluegrass: 2 to 2-1/2 inches
Perennial ryegrass: 2 to 2-1/2 inches
Fine fescue: 2 to 2-1/2 inches
Tall fescue: 2-1/2 to 3 inches

Now that you know how low to go, here are some more mowing tips to help you maintain a well-manicured lawn.

  • Always mow the grass when it’s dry.
  • A sharp blade is of the utmost importance. A clean cut keeps the grass healthier, while a dull blade can cause damage and invite disease. Sharpen it at least once a season.
  • Leave the clippings on the lawn. This provides the grass with nutrients, which means less fertilizer is needed.
  • Cut cool-season grasses like Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, fine fescue, and perennial ryegrass shorter for the final fall mowing to prevent damage from heavy snows.

Call Free Spray Lawn Care at [phone] and we’ll help you determine the proper height for your well-manicured lawn.