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Thursday, September 22 2011
Labor Day through Halloween is your window for preparing lawns for a lush spring.

Although spring lawn care gets all the attention, fall lawn care is the make-it or break-it season for grass.

“I’m already thinking about next year,” says John Dillon, who takes care of New York City’s Central Park, which features 200 acres of lawn in the middle of Manhattan. “The grass I grow this fall is what will be there next spring.”

Fall lawn care is no walk in the park. It’s hard work, and Dillon guides you through the four basic steps.

1. Aeration

Aeration gives your lawn a breather in autumn and provides room for new grass to spread without competition from spring weeds. Aeration tools pull up plugs of grass and soil, breaking up compacted turf. That allows water, oxygen, and nutrients to reach roots, and gives seeds room to sprout.

If kids frequently play on your lawn, plan to aerate twice a year — fall and spring. If your lawn is just for show, then aerate once a year — and maybe even once every other year.

A hand-aerating tool ($20), which looks like a pitchfork with hollow tines, is labor-intensive and meant for unplugging small sections of grass. Gas-powered aerating machines (rental, $20/hour) are about the size of a big lawn mower, and are good for working entire lawns. Bring some muscle when you pick up your rental: Aerating machines are heavy and can be hard to lift into your truck or SUV.

Depending on the size of your property, professional aeration costs about $150.

2. Seeding

Fall, when the soil temperature is about 55 degrees, is the best time to seed your lawn because turf roots grow vigorously in fall and winter. If you want a lush lawn, don’t cheap out on the seed.

Bags of inexpensive seed ($35 for 15 pounds) often contain hollow husks, weed seed, and annual rye grass seed, which grows until the first frost then drops dead. Splurge on the good stuff ($55 for 15 pounds of Kentucky Bluegrass seed), which resists drought, disease, and insects.

Water your new seed every day for 10 to 20 days until it germinates.

3. Fertilizing

A late fall fertilization — before the first frost — helps your grass survive a harsh winter and encourages it to grow green and lush in spring. Make your last fertilization of the year count by choosing a product high (10% to 15%) in phosphorous, which is critical for root growth, Dillon says.

Note: Some states are banning phosphorous-rich fertilizers, which are harmful to the watershed. In those places, look for nitrogen-rich fertilizers, which promote shoot and root growth. Check with your local extension service to see what regulations apply in your area.

4. Mulching

Instead of raking leaves, run over them a couple of times with your mower to grind them into mulch. The shredded leaves protect grass from winter wind and desiccation. An added bonus — shredded leaves decompose into yummy organic matter to feed grass roots.

A mulching blade ($10) that attaches to your mower will grind the leaves even finer.

Lisa Kaplan Gordon is a HouseLogic managing editor and builder.



Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/articles/fall-lawn-care-tips/#ixzz1YXTFvTEt
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, August 07 2010

If you want a yard that demands less time, money, and water, consider ground cover rather than a traditional lawn.

Americans have long had a soft spot for lawns. Turf grass covers nearly 47 million acres in the U.S., according to the Lawn Institute. But there’s plenty that’s not green about all that green. For starters, the average household dumps 60 gallons of water a day on conventional lawns. Toxic lawn herbicides and pesticides run off into lakes and streams. Gas-powered mowers spew pollution into the air. And then there’s all that time spent watering, weeding, seeding, sodding, thatching, and mulching.

If you’re looking for an alternative, consider replacing some or all of your high-maintenance turf with ground covers that form walkable “carpets,” and innovative grasses that require little or no water or mowing once established.

In turn, you’ll reduce the need for irrigation, stop washing harmful chemicals into the watershed, add depth and texture to your landscape, and spend your spare time enjoying your yard instead of manicuring it.

Creeping perennials, clover, and other ground covers

There’s a ground cover to meet most needs, whether you’re planting a pathway, a hedge, or a broad swath of green. They run the gamut of foliage textures and colors, and many have wonderful flowers. Some varieties are ground-hugging and feel delicious under bare feet. Others grow up to two feet tall, making them ideal as barriers or landscape punctuation.

Look for attributes that meet your needs: child-durable, deer-resistant, drought-tolerant, shade-loving. Mixing them up is not only aesthetically pleasing, it’s also good for the landscape: Diversity increases resistance to pests and disease and reduces the need for fertilizer and pesticides. Here are some popular choices.

Creeping perennials: Tight to the ground, these plants are especially good for cushy green carpets. They keep out weeds and allow air, water, and nutrients to get to plant roots. Many work equally well in rock gardens or in crevices between stepping stones, in full or partial sun. These include mat-forming New Zealand Brass Buttons (Cotula squalida) and Scotch or Irish Moss (Sagina subulata), which isn’t a moss at all but a perennial that forms a cushiony blooming carpet.

Some, like Blue Star Creeper (Laurentia fluviatilis), which has tiny green foliage, bear up to heavy foot traffic. Creeping Jenny (Convolvulus arvensis) has an extensive root system that makes it quick to spread and tough to kill. That’s a good thing if you’re looking for a tough turf alternative but a problem if it creeps into beds where you don’t want it.

Besides being good creepers, many ground-hugging perennial herbs are often nicely scented, hardy under foot traffic, and even edible. These include chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile), which has fern-like foliage and white flowers with yellow centers; Corsican mint (Mentha requienii), which thrives in shade, exudes a minty smell when trod upon, and is edible; and various thymes (Woolly, Red, Prostrate), which feature dainty flowers and work well between pavers or as a low mounding carpet.

Creeping perennials cost $6 to $10 per plant. A 15-by-20-foot area with plants 2 inches apart (for instant density) requires 300 plants. But if you’re patient enough to wait a year or so for them to spread, you can buy fewer plants and space them 12 inches apart.

Clover: Although clover has gotten a bad rap as a weed, it’s actually not a weed at all. In fact, a clover lawn (or, for high-traffic areas, a clover-grass mix) has many advantages. Sweet-scented, inexpensive, and quite durable, white clover (Trifolium repens) grows in any kind of soil, stays green even during low-water periods, and feels lovely underfoot.

Low-growing clover doesn’t need regular cutting, nor does it need fertilizer, but an occasional mow will encourage new growth and discourage bees. If you don’t mind the bees, consider letting your clover bloom, which benefits the bees and the environment. Clover is one of the least expensive groundcover options, costing about $4 to seed 4,000 square feet. 

Laura Fisher Kaiser writes about architecture, design, and sustainability. She is in the process of letting clover, moss, and creeping jenny take over what’s left of her Washington, DC, lawn.



Source: http://www.houselogic.com/articles/low-maintenance-lawn-alternatives-ground-cover/#ixzz0vvpgDUhM
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 09:55 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, September 16 2009
Anybody who will be selling a property in the spring should get a jump on curb appeal by working now on beautifying the lawn.

Here are some key tasks that will lead to a green and healthy yard in the next selling season:
  • Calculate the total lawn area to learn how much seed and chemicals are required.
  • Treat weeds with an herbicide.
  • Test the pH level and, if indicated, add lime.
  • Plant ground cover like pachysandra and hardy ferns in low-light or slopping areas.
  • Before preparing, seeding and fertilizing the rest of the lawn, consider whether there are areas that might be better candidates for stepping stones or another attractive alternative to plantings.


Source: Charlotte Observer, Nancy Brachey (09/05/2008) http://www.realtor.org/RMODaily.nsf/pages/News2009091103?OpenDocument

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 07:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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The Trentini Team
F.C. Tucker EMGE REALTORS®
7820 Eagle Crest Bvd., Suite 200
Evansville, IN 47715
Office: (812) 479-0801
Cell: (812) 499-9234
Email: Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com


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