Lawn Tips Blog

Preparing Spring Vegetable Planting for Gardens

spring gardeningWinter has finally concluded for the year and now is the time to start preparing your spring vegetable planting for gardens.  Some easy to steps will help you ease into planting your inside seedling and bulbs to transitioning to the outdoors when the temperatures are just right.

Spring Garden Cleaning

  • Spring is the perfect season to clean your garden beds, remove dead leaves as well as winter pruning of tree limbs or stems. If need you can use this debris for a compost pile or bin.
  • Remove old weeds by their roots to prevent their re-growth. When disposing of weeds, do not throw them into a compost bin or pile.  Weeds can germinate in the compost pile and be reintroduced to your garden.
  • Organize your tool shed so it will be easier to find the things you need readily during gardening season.

Soil Management

Testing your soil for deficient nutrients and soil type will correctly identify your soil’s need. Many cooperative extension services provide local residents with soil testing for a reasonable rate, additionally you purchase a do it your self soil test kit at your local lawn and garden store.

Nitrogen rich soils work best, but soils can be too acidic or too alkaline. For balanced soils consider amending your soil with organic materials, such as compost, worm castings or well-aged manure. For unbalanced soils you can purchased fertilizer specialized for the soil imbalance.

 

Let the Planting Begin

Begin with growing cool-season vegetables such as arugula, lettuces, peas and cabbages. Plant tomatoes and peppers from seeds indoors about two months before the last frost. Follow up and allow seedlings to adjust to outdoor conditions before planting them in the garden. Divide perennials before spring growth for best results.

Mulch

Mulching will reduce weeds, mitigate diseases, save water and keep soil temperatures constant. Water soil before applying mulch, and again water after mulching. Avoid placing mulch a few inches from the plant stems to prevent root rot.

The simple and easy steps to preparing spring vegetable planting will help jump start your garden yield and consistency.

Winter Seeding a Dormant Lawn in North Texas

Sewing Seeds For Spring

winter-seedingThe winter months in the Dallas, Fort Worth area is a roller coaster ride of sorts. The weather can change almost instantly from 80 degrees to below freezing over night. There are however a good number of days that weather will very nice to work outdoors.  Your lawn may not be ready for mowing, but winter lawn seeding now will help your lawn get a head start spring growth.

Dormant seeding is the practice of sowing grass in the winter months when grass seeds are inactive for growth. Seeding can be done during the months of November through February. Its is ideal to plant in February when there is no competing seeds or invasive plants trying to spread and the spring is right around the corner.

Steps to Seeding

Seed your lawn before that final thaw,  and follow these steps to ensure the grass will be green and lush.

  • Seeds must make direct contact with bare soil.
  • Rake or till soil before seeding.
  • Remove debris in the area before seeding.
  • Follow seed provider instructions for best spread seed coverage. Too much or too little seed is not beneficial.
  • Lightly rake the surface to cover seeds.
  • Keep off the lawn. Let the weather cycle of freezing and thawing in the coming weeks will help the seeds set.
  • Do not use herbicides until after germination has set in.

When spring arrives, mow your new winter lawn when the grass reaches normal mowing height. To maintain your lawn continue to see every six to eight weeks after seeding, for the rest of the season.

How to Mulch Properly

A common landscaping feature is using mulch.It’s important to learn the differences between mulch materials, and how to mulch properly. Use and apply the spread mulch serves a purpose for your garden, including:

  • Insulating roots on hot days.
  • Preventing moisture from evaporating.
  • Hinders weeds from taking root.

There are two basic kinds of mulch.

mulch21. Organic materials include wood, bark, compost, grass clippings, and leaves. Organic mulch will decompose and improve the soil as they break down and decompose. Over a few years you’ll need to add more mulch, in addition, organic mulches are easy to spread, and do no harm if mixed into soil.

2. Non organic stone and plastic mulches by contrast is meant to be a more permanent mulch. Non organic mulches are applied  atop a layer of landscape fabric, and then left alone. It’s the lowest-maintenance option but not easy to work plant in. If you will be doing any gardening that requires digging and moving mulch aside to plant ornamental grasses or plants? You will want to stick with an organic mulch.

Choosing the right mulch for your garden.

Every kind of organic mulch has it’s downsides. For example, bark nuggets are can float away in heavy rain. Cocoa hulls have a distinct aroma, yet are relatively expensive, and toxic to dogs. Shredded bark or wood is the most common landscape mulch. It’s inexpensive and easy to apply, however doesn’t add many nutrients to soil compared to other mulches.

Yard debris can used as mulch.

You can also use debris from your yard as mulch, such as grass clippings, leaves, and compost. Grass clippings are effective as mulch, as long as you don’t apply too much or it will get soggy and sticky. Avoid mulch if the grass was treated with herbicides. Leaves are an excellent mulch if they’re shredded first. Pine needles are long lasting and an excellent mulch for plants like azaleas, because pine needles acidify soil.

Calculating the amount of mulch you will need depends on your area of coverage and the depth you want. The following are standard coverage rates for a 2 cubic foot bag, a 3 cubic foot bag and a cubic yard.

Choosing a Lawn Mower For Your Yard

 

Choosing a Lawn Mower For Your Yard

Know Your Yard

mower1When choosing a lawn mower for your yard, should to know the property your mower needs to handle will help you narrow down the options.

  1. A small patch of grass (under 50 square meters) can be easily mowed using a manual reel mower. You’ve got to move a bit faster to activate the blades properly, but there is no engine (so it’s low maintenance and eco-friendly) and the mower can be stored vertically against the wall.
  2. How large is your yard? If it’s less than a half acre, a walk-behind mower should do the trick.
  3. If it’s larger than a half acre, think about a riding mower—but don’t forget maneuverability.

If you’ll need to circle around a tree or two, then your assessment should include a riding mower’s turning radius. How about inclines? On hilly terrain, a riding mower or self-propelled walking mower will make your life easier. Also, bear in mind the quality of your grass—is it thin or thick? To ensure optimal performance on dense or coarse grass, opt for a machine with higher horsepower and taller wheels.

Comfort & Safety

mower2Before purchasing a riding mower, take its comfort level into account. Look for models that feature adjustable seats; arm rests and lumbar supports are an added plus. One of the most important details to weigh is safety. Any mower you’re considering should automatically shut down if the operator releases the push bar or leaves the seat. In the case of riding mowers specifically, look for foot controls, as these encourage the operator to use both hands on the wheel. And remember the importance of a parking brake!

Post Sale Service

Keep in mind that your new mower might, and probably will, require maintenance over the course of its lifetime. Save yourself time, money, and headaches by choosing a reliable manufacturer that offers speedy repair service.

As important as it is to choose the right mower, it’s only the first part of proper lawn care.   For those yards that are in extreme need of clean up, call Lawn Care Flower Mound for a free estimate.

How to Build A Stone Walkway

How to Build a Stone Walkway

A walkway made of stepping stones is a simple, inexpensive way to add charm to your landscape. Stone paths offer a practical route for foot traffic from the sidewalk or driveway to your front door and along the side or back of the house. Consider your home’s architecture when choosing a style of stepping stone. If there is keystone, brick or faux rock on your exterior walls, bring the same texture and color into the stepping stones. The path shown here was selected to coordinate with the coral hues of the patio pavers. Matching the color or texture of a nearby landscape element will give your path a professional look.

Choose a surface with enough texture that it won’t be slippery when wet, especially if the path will be near a pool. And avoid very dark stepping stones, which can become too hot for bare feet in the summertime.

Step 1: Clear and Fill

Determine the boundaries of your path and remove all vegetation from the area. If you use an herbicide, apply it at least twice with three days in between. Once the vegetation is gone, put down 2 inches of leveling sand. Drag a 2×4 across the surface of the sand to make it very level.

Preparing To Set a Stone Path

Step 2: Lay the Stones

levelingSet the stepping stones into the sand about 6 to 8 inches apart. Keep the surface of the stones well above the sand, and make sure each new stone is level with the one before it.

Laying the Stones for the Path

Step 3: Level the Stones

As you settle the stones into place, use a level to check each surface. When the level is parallel to the house, the bubble should be right in the middle, indicating that the stone is on an even grade. When the level is perpendicular to your house, you want to see a slight positive slope. This will allow water to slide off the stones and away from your house. This is particularly important when stepping stones are placed close to an exterior wall.

A weed barrier will ensure that your stone path stays tidy and virtually maintenance-free for years. Once all the stones are in place and appropriately leveled, lay the weed barrier on top. Use garden shears to carefully cut holes for each stone. Weigh the barrier down with some pebbles as you work.

Step 5: Fill with Pebbles

For a clean look, surround the stepping stones with small pebbles in a complementary, yet contrasting color. The pebbles should be deep enough to cover the weed barrier completely, but their surface should remain slightly lower than the surface of the stones.

Step 6: Install Edging

To keep the pebbles from slipping into the surrounding landscape, you’ll need to install edging. For a clean, minimalist look, a narrow strip of black metal works well. For a country cottage ambience, use brick-shaped pavers that coordinate with your stepping stones. Dig a trench that allows you to place the edging material deep enough so it won’t be a tripping hazard. The top of the edging should be just an inch above the pebbles.

When a project calls for a professional touch and strength. For landscaping done right call, Lawn Care Flowermound for a free consultation.

 

How to Amend Clay Soil

Why you should amend clay soil?

It’s so hard for plants to thrive when their roots are planted in clay.  How to amend clay soil so that it’s easier to dig, easier to water, and easier for your plants? Soil is the foundation of the garden. When you have a hard clay soil in your garden it makes it more difficult for your plants to grow and thrive.

Add Organic Material to Soil

clay mixed soilUsing organic materials and mix it in well to a depth of at least 6-8 inches. Home improvement and garden centers sell large bags of soil amendment  or “soil conditioner” materials, while providing advice for what to use in the soil. Materials include:

  1. Peat moss,
  2. Chopped up green plants,
  3. Potting soil
  4. Dried Leaves and Leaf mold,
  5. Aged compost
  6. Aged manure… the list goes on.

If you’re amending a large garden area all at once, figure on adding a layer of organic material that’s a good 3-4 inches deep.  Use a rototiller if you have one, or use a spade and some sweat equity to mix it all together.     If you can find a strong able-bodied teenager who wants to earn some cash, all the better.  Spread the organic material out across the area to be worked, and use the spade to dig down, turn over, stir, chop, and repeat, until the entire bed has been worked.

For a few months after amending your soil, pay a little extra attention to the soil moisture when watering your plants.  The clay around your newly amended area can act like a bowl, holding too much water and staying too wet.

Expanded Shale

expanded shaleExpanded Shale is porous, high-temperature fired clay that never breaks down and can hold 38% of its weight in water.  It is highly recommended to use expanded shale for every planting! Its size helps produce air flow, which provides oxygen to the roots and improves water retention in sandy soils.

How to use Expanded Shale?

Flower beds in clay soil, lay down a 3 inch layer of the expanded shale with a 3 inch layer of compost, then till in 6-8 inches deep. Expanded shale must be incorporated into the soil, not added on top of the soil surface. Crown beds to further improve drainage. After planting plants, cover with a 3 inch layer of mulch. If soil is sandy or loam, expanded shale is not necessary to improve drainage although its water holding capacity may be the bonus. More info here:

Gardens and landscapes that have clay soils will be tricky to plant the types of plants you want without some soil modification.  If you have a large or small project help is just a click away with Lawn Care Flowermound. For Landscaping, Lawn Maintenance, and more Contact Us for a free estimate.

 

 

 

5 Common Grass Weeds in Texas

The Battle for Your Lawn

These 5 common grass weeds in Texas can sprout up in your lawn as well as your gardens.  While some grass weeds are easier to manage than others, therefore not solutions for these weeds will be the same and might take more time to treat.  If you don’t see the weeds in your lawn you can your type of lawn weed here.

Proper Lawn Care Is The Best Remedy

Weeds can overtake a stressed lawn. A few simple steps can protect it.

  1. Watering deeply and infrequently helps your lawn compete by encouraging deeper root growth.
  2. Set your lawn mower higher: Mowing at the proper height, usually one of the 2 highest setting on your mower, helps the grass grow thick to shade weed seeds, so it’s harder for them to grow.
  3. Feeding at regularly, like every 6-8 weeks during the growing season with helps your lawn thicken up and fill in bare spots, choking out weeds from your lawn is very effective.
  4. Applying a pre-emergent weed killer in the spring, as this prevent the weed seeds before they germinate.

Too Late for Prevention

grabcrass
Crabgrass is common grass weed.

There are many time tested remedies for fighting common grass weeds.  It is your choice if you want to use chemicals, organic or alternative methods of weed control.

  1. Brands like Scotts Weed and Feed or Bayers 3 in 1 Lawn Feed is one method to use on existing weeds, however can be toxic for certain types of grass and the environment.
  2. Good old fashion weed pulling. Either by hand or with a weed tool, pulling weeds is very effective.
  3. For some weeds all you need to do is cover them up with news paper or special cloth materials that eliminates sunlight.  they will die off because with no sun, no creating of nutrients through photosynthesis.  You can also apply mulch to flowerbeds after you pull the weeds. this will prevent the regrowth.
  4. Applying vinegar to weeds with help kill the weed and dry out its roots.  Another method is using boiling water on weed that have taken up or grown in cracks in the your sidewalks or stone pathways.

Even the best maintained lawns come under attack from common grass weeds. Weed seeds are in the wind, creeping weeds claim more territory, and weeds you thought you pulled quietly comeback. How well your lawn adjust with the weeds depends on the type of weeds involved, in addition to the response you choose for your lawn’s health. Understanding common lawn weeds and the options available to fight them can help you successfully combat the invasion.  At Lawn Care Flower Mound, we strive in providing the best landscaping service possible.  Call Now for a free custom quote or Estimate.

How to Prune a Palm Tree

Where to Start

When learning how to prune a palm tree use a sharp pair of bypass hand pruners, or sharp pair of loppers for small fronds. For larger fronds a sharp, clean cutting saw will be necessary. When using a ladder, make sure to take all safety precautions. Falling larger fronds have knocked folks off the ladder during the removal process!
Remove dead or diseased wood by pruning back to a point of healthy, disease-free growth, or remove the entire frond.

Do’s and Dont’s

Good palm tree care can means avoid removing most of the leaves (fronds) yearly or more frequently because it may weaken the palm and slows its growth.
Mature fronds provide food for developing fronds, flowers, fruit, roots and storage reserves in the palm’s trunk. When healthy green fronds are pruned, the nutrients they would have produced are lost to the rest of the tree. Some nutrients move from older leaves of palms to newer leaves as they die.

Removal of older green or chlorotic leaves exacerbates nutrient deficiency. Nutrient deficiencies retards growth. So, when pruning a palm, take care to leave at least two or more rows of mature fronds; those that have turned greenish-yellow or muted green, but have yet to turn brown. Do not prune off more of the palm’s leaves in one year than are produced during that time. Simply put, do not remove a palm tree frond until it has completely died (turned totally to brown).

Which Palm Tree is Best

landscape-palmsIf you are new to palm trees and not sure which trees are best for you. Take a few minutes and browse through this guide of different palm trees.

Keep in mind that tree trimming can be dangerous if you don’t take the right precautions, therefore call the professionals at Lawn Care Flowermound for a quote or click here: prune and trim your trees.

Drought Resistant Plant: Angelonia (Summer Snapdragon)

angeloniasA Must Have for Texas Gardens.

Landscape professionals and horticulturists are raving about Angelonia’s heat and drought tolerance, extended
bloom period and performance in the landscape. Better Homes and Gardens magazine listed it as one of the top
20annuals of 2008 and it was a Georgia Gold Medal Winner in 2009.

In addition the Angelonia is a Texas Top Performer
Angelonia is a spreading annual with upright flower spikes that resemble miniature snapdragons. The Serena™ series are the only angelonias that are grown from seed. Flower colors available include white, pink, purple, lavender and lavender pink. Angelonia can be used as a border planting, a ground cover or as a trailing plant for mixed containers.

Check out the video below and be sure to contact us for help with your landscaping maintenance and projects. We are here to help!

5 Common Mistakes When Landscaping Your Home

These are mistakes to avoid.

Over-watering
Many homeowners make the mistake of over-watering. Most lawns just need about an inch of a water per week.
The best time of day to water the lawn (and usually any plant) is early morning so it has all day to dry.
Sprinklers with automatic timers reduce water waste.

You don’t have a plan.
Plan-drawingDecide on a specific theme or look and then draw it out on paper. Figure out where you want to put
your plants and shrubs in relation to the shape and style of your house. Don’t forget to factor in
your budget when you are in the nursery.

Pruning too much or too little.
Pruning can be just as much of an art form as it is a technique, but when pruning is improperly
done, you can do more harm than good. Every plant has a different pruning process.
See this pruning guide.

There are two ways that fertilizing can be a mistake.
lawn fertilizingThe first one is not doing it at all. The other is fertilizing too much or fertilizing improperly.
It’s a good idea to do it at least twice a year, once in the spring and again in the fall. You should never
do so in the bright sun, and watering always needs to follow. It’s also a good idea to mix in fertilizer
when planting new plants. Make sure that, when you dig the hole, you mix in new soil and fertilizer so
the plant, over the period of a year, is going to have a nice time release of fertilizer.

It’s a common myth that cutting the grass shorter means you have to mow it less.
That’s actually not the case, and it can more harmful than helpful. If you scalp the lawn, it could
result in bare patches, which could make it inviting for insects and/or susceptible to disease.
The key is to cut the lawn different lengths throughout the year. During the summer, the lawn
needs a little more shade, so let the blades grow just a little more. That way the water doesn’t
evaporate so fast. Cut shorter in the winter so that the sunlight can actually get into the soil.

Need Expert Help? Contact us for a free estimate.