The Benefits of Lawn Fertilization

The Benefits of Lawn Fertilization

Just like any living thing, your lawn needs nourishment to survive, and it can’t always get all the nutrients it needs from the environment. Fertilizing gives your grass an extra boost for good growth and health, creating a lush, green foundation for your home. When it comes to lawn maintenance, many people are accustomed to watering and mowing the turf, but not everyone knows the benefits of lawn fertilization.

Fertilizing 101

Most fertilizers are made up of three nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These elements are represented by weight percentages listed on the package. A fertilizer bag that has the numbers 15-15-15 on it reflects that it has equal parts of each element. In different ways, each nutrient contributes to the turf’s health. Nitrogen encourages growth and gives grass its green coloring. Phosphorus is important for developing a healthy root system. And potassium provides strength so that a lawn can be resistant to drought, pests, and disease.

Fertilizers come in liquid and granular forms. Diluted with water, the liquid application is fast-acting and inexpensive. However, it can do more damage to your lawn if used incorrectly. Granular fertilizers, applied with a rotary spreader, are popular among homeowners because the time-released formula is more forgiving. Although this type of fertilizer takes longer to provide positive results, it allows for a bigger margin of error if used incorrectly and doesn’t require as many applications.

Lawn Fertilization Benefits

  • Safeguard your investment. You spend time and money making your yard look good, and having a lackluster lawn won’t reflect the effort you put into it. Think of lawn fertilization as a way to protect your investment. The grass gets the extra nutrients it needs to be strong, healthy, and able to fight off diseases and pests.
  • Improve soil conditions. The soil below the grass provides it with a nutritious foundation for growing. However, soil does not always have a natural balance of the nutrients needed. Sometimes Mother Nature is not enough. Get a soil test kit from your local garden center to determine what nutrients are lacking, then you’ll know better what type of fertilizer best fits your needs.
  • Curb appeal. Your lawn is a valuable asset. When it’s thick, green, and weed-free, it not only is the envy of the neighborhood, but it contributes to your property’s value. A well-fed lawn is like a beautiful welcome mat, and it’s something you can enjoy whether or not you are putting your home up for sale.
  • Ward off weeds. Healthy grass is your best defense against weeds. The thicker the lawn, the less likely weeds will find a place to take root and spread.
  • Reduce muddy messes. Is your lawn an obstacle course of puddles after it rains? Another way that your lawn benefits from regular fertilizing is that it strengthens the root system of the grass, allowing it to better absorb water.

Need More Info on Lawn Fertilization?

So, if the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, chances are your neighbor knows about the benefits of lawn fertilization. Contact Free Spray Lawn Care at [phone] today and our experts will help your lawn get the nourishment it needs.

Preventing Moles from Damaging Your Lawn

Preventing Moles from Damaging Your Lawn

If moles are making a home in your yard, you will know it. The underground tunnels they make damage plant and grass roots, and simultaneously create an eyesore of furrows, holes, and dirt mounds above ground. After all of the time and energy you’ve put into your yard, it’s frustrating to say the least. But there are ways of preventing moles from invading your lawn. Read on and find out how to stop the devilish diggers.

Meet the Mole: Identification

Although they are often mistaken for voles and gophers, moles are not members of the rodent family, just odd-looking mammals. These elusive creatures are difficult to identify because they spend most of their time underground. They dig day and night in search of food like worms, grubs, and other subterranean insects.

Brown or dark gray in color, these mammals have long pointed snouts and tiny eyes and ears. They are approximately six-to-eight inches long and weigh up to a pound. Wide and long-clawed, the front paws are used like shovels to dig holes.

Signs and Symptoms of Moles and Mole Activity

As moles create underground tunnels below the soil’s surface, they leave behind a trail of raised ridges and dirt mounds. That is the first sign of a problem. Moles are solitary creatures, so even though the mess they make looks like the work of a family of shifty-eyed shovelers, it is usually the work of only one. Although they stay mostly underground, you may spot one during warm, wet weather.

Besides the devastated appearance of your lawn after a mole has moved in, the messed up turf is difficult to mow. And it’s more prone to weed infestations because of bare spots in the grass. Root damage from underground tunneling eventually takes its toll on plants and grasses.

Getting Control over Moles

These pests are partying it up under your lawn for a reason—they found food. So the first step in managing your mole problem is to get rid of the food source. Although you can’t rid your lawn of all insects, you can do something about your grub population. Use beneficial nematodes or spray milky spore on your lawn. Or consult a lawn-care expert to apply a chemical treatment.

The best solution—and most challenging—to a mole problem is trapping. There are humane traps that allow you to catch the critters unharmed and release them away from your property. Above and below ground traps can be purchased at a local garden center. Follow the instructions and move the trap around until you get your mole.

There are plenty of options for baiting and poisoning if you can deal with death. But preventing moles from permanently making a home in your yard is easier. Many products you already have on hand are natural repellents. Sprinkle cayenne pepper in the tunnel entrances. Tobacco, coffee grounds, and castor oil also work well, but remember to reapply after it rains. Roofing tar is also an effective repellant but can be messy to use.

Preventing Moles in Your Yard

A healthy, pest-free lawn is the first step in preventing moles from moving in. Because these creatures prefer moist soil conditions (damp, loamy dirt makes for easy digging), avoid over watering or choose a grass type that requires less water. Quickly fill in any holes and press down raised ridges.

Preventing moles from damaging your lawn takes time, patience, persistence, and know-how. If you are short on any of these, call in a professional. Contact Free Spray Lawn Care today at [phone] and we will get rid of any pests once and for all.

How to Have a Dandelion-Free Lawn

How to Have a Dandelion-Free Lawn

Every lawn, no matter how meticulously maintained, is susceptible to a dandelion infestation. One of the most common broadleaf weeds, dandelions (taraxacum) love sunlight, tolerate a variety of soil conditions, and thrive in many environments. But what makes these pesky plants so unpopular among property owners is that they turn into weed-spreading machines and are difficult to completely eliminate. With some effort, a little know-how, and a lot of patience, you can have a dandelion-free lawn.

Identifying the Dandelion

Whether you call it milk witch, puff ball, cankerwort, lion’s tooth, or blow ball, a dandelion can be distinguished from look-alike weeds by the following characteristics:

  • Hollow, leafless stems that contain a milky white substance
  • Dark green, smooth, deeply-notched leaves grow in a rosette close to the ground
  • Each stem carries only one compact yellow flower that turns into a fuzzy ball of winged seeds

Why Are Dandelions Bad?

Dandelions are a hardy, invasive weed that does battle both above ground and below. Under the ground, the taproots grow deep, sometimes up to two or three feet. This makes it difficult to remove the entire plant, and what’s left behind quickly grows back into an unwanted weed.

Above ground, the flower head matures into a white puffy ball made up of as many as 200 seeds. A light breeze spreads the seeds throughout your yard and onto neighboring lawns. To make matters worse, children love to blow on the puff balls, helping send seeds on their way.

Once established, dandelions crowd out grass and other plants, stealing water and nutrients, and eventually taking over your yard.

How to Have a Dandelion-Free Lawn

There are many methods to control dandelions, but because of the weed’s quick-spreading nature, it’s best to employ several methods at once.

Although time-consuming, hand pulling is the most popular method, and the least effective. If you are going to take on this daunting task, do so in spring, before the flower sets seed. The long taproots make it a challenge. If you don’t get it all, the weed quickly re-establishes itself from the remaining root. Purchase a special digging tool at any garden center or use something similar to a long screw driver. Either one requires great care in reaching the entire root.

Early fall is the time to use a post-emergent herbicide. A selective herbicide targets larger infestations, since it kills the dandelions but not the grass. For spot treating only a few dandelions, a non-selective herbicide should be applied directly on the weed’s leaves. This type of herbicide kills any nearby plants it touches so be careful when applying. The leaves transfer the chemicals down to the roots to kill the entire plant.

Natural Methods

The acidity of vinegar causes it to act like a natural herbicide. Apply it directly to the leaves in order to keep it from harming grass or other plants.

Corn gluten meal (CGM) works as a pre-emergent herbicide when applied to the lawn four-to-six weeks before germination. A yellow powdery substance that is a byproduct of milling corn, it prevents the roots from growing. CGM is available at most garden centers. Get enough because you’ll need to reapply several times throughout the growing season.

Pouring boiling water over the dandelion plants is another tedious technique. This process has to be repeated often in order to be successful.

If you can’t beat them, eat them! High in iron and vitamins A and C, dandelions are edible, roots, flowers, leaves, and all. They’ve been used for centuries for a variety of medicinal purposes as well. So go ahead and eat your weed problems away!

Prevention

A healthy, thick lawn is your best defense against the dandelion. By keeping your grass on a regular maintenance schedule you’ll be one step ahead of any weed infestation. Water and fertilize grass regularly, re-seed bare spots, mow high, and keep soil healthy. If you don’t have time to do this, hire a profession.

Winning the war on weeds takes persistence and any infestation is better left to the experts. Contact Free Spray Lawn Care today at [phone] and we’ll help you achieve a dandelion-free lawn and ward off weeds once and for all.

Four Tips For a Healthy Lawn

Four Tips For a Healthy Lawn

Growing a lush, green, healthy lawn shouldn’t be a struggle, but it does require time and effort if you are taking care of it yourself. Make your turf the talk of the town with these four tips and your neighbors will be green with envy.

Know How to Mow

Proper mowing is key to a healthy lawn, however, each type of grass comes with its own set of rules. First, find out what type of turf you have. This determines the optimal height to keep your grass.

A good rule of thumb is not to cut more than one-third of the blade height during one mowing. Keep cool-season grasses between 3 and 3-1/2 inches, while warm-season grasses do better between 2 and 3 inches. When in doubt, leave the lawn a little higher. Taller grass shades the soil better, keeping the sun from drying up too much moisture and allowing the roots to grow deeper. It also crowds out unwanted weeds and keeps any weed seeds in the dark, preventing them from germinating.

Maintain your mower. Grass recovers from mowing easier when the cut is cleaner, and this requires a sharp blade and proper upkeep.

Water It Well

Water less frequently, but for longer periods of time. This helps grass grow a deep, healthy root system. A deep watering every three or four days, rather than shallow watering every day or so, should give your grass the moisture it needs. However, wilted or curling blades, faded color, or a grayish blue tint to your grass could mean it’s not enough.

The best time to water your lawn is in the morning. The air is cooler and less likely to evaporate before it reaches the roots. During the warmer afternoon hours, water evaporates too quickly. And watering at night can result in moist conditions that promote fungi, molds, and other diseases.

Let It Breathe

A healthy lawn needs to breathe. During the warmer months, your yard experiences more foot traffic, wear and tear, and exposure to the elements. This causes soil to compact and not get enough oxygen.

Lawns also get a layer of thatch, which is a buildup of dead grass and debris. A thin layer of thatch is good, but if it’s more than a half inch it blocks out light, air, water, and nutrients. Aeration, the process of boring holes in the soil, breaks up thatch and compact soil, allowing air, water, and nutrients to better penetrate the soil and reach the roots. To sum it up, the holes let the lawn breathe, which in turn encourages growth. Aerate cool season turf grasses like Kentucky bluegrass and ryegrass in the spring or fall and follow it up with fertilizing.

Ward off Weeds

Winning the war on weeds takes persistence, but you’ll be ahead of the battle with a thick, healthy lawn to crowd out potential invasions. So, all of the tips listed above get you on your way to creating an environment less inviting to these unwanted plants.

Weeds find a way into lawns when grass is sparse or there are bare spots. Dense, hardy turf crowds them out. So make sure to reseed as needed.

Preventing weeds from making a mess of your lawn is easier than stopping a full-on infestation. For this, use a pre-emergent herbicide to target the ones that are most difficult to destroy and can’t be totally removed by hand. Follow directions on the label carefully, or consult a lawn specialist if you are unsure about what to use and how to use it. Also, an expert can identify the weeds first to ensure that the proper treatment and products are used.

Need Help Getting a Healthy Lawn?

Achieving terrific turf takes time and effort, so if you are short on either of those, call in an expert. Contact Free Spray Lawn Care at [phone] and let us create the healthy lawn you’ve always wanted.