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4 Tips for Saving Time and Money on Routine Lawn Care

4 Tips for Saving Time and Money on Routine Lawn CareHere at Turf Shield, we offer customized lawn treatment programs that are tailored to the unique needs of our customers’ lawns, with a whole array of lawn care services ranging from simple lawn treatment to aeration, over-seeding, and even fire ant control.  However, keeping any lawn looking its best can often be a full time job.  Even though we can offer the best advice and support available, there are still a number of routine lawn care duties that remain the responsibility of the homeowner.  Unfortunately, even routine tasks like regular watering and mowing can be both expensive and time-consuming.  Here are four great tips for saving time and money on routine lawn care:

Plan Ahead

If you are starting from scratch and have a chance to plant a lawn yourself, look for a slow-growth, drought-resistant grass species that can save you water, fertilizer, and time in the long run. In the southeastern part of the United States, this is usually a Zoysia (if you get a lot of sun) but we have several experts who can answer your questions and help you find the specific species that are right for your climate, soil, and lifestyle.

Water Wisely

An established lawn needs about 1 to 1.5  inches of water per week in the growing season, and although it may seem sensible to give the lawn a little bit each day, that is actually not the case.  Light, daily watering encourages shallow root systems, so instead try to water thoroughly only once or twice every week.  Watering is most effective if it is done in the early morning or late evening, when evaporation rates are low and more water can be absorbed into the soil.  Finally, don’t be afraid to let the grass turn a little brown during dry spells, as most species can easily go as long as a month without water.

Don’t Bag – Mulch

Grass clippings created while mowing your lawn are a free source of slow-release fertilizer, so let the mower discharge the clippings back onto your grass rather than bagging them.  Not only does this save on total mowing time, but it also can cut fertilizer costs by up to thirty percent.  The only time that you may need to bag your lawn clippings is when your lawn is having a disease breakout, which is often signaled by irregular brown patches or rings in the lawn.

Maintain Your Mower

Sharp lawn-mower blades cut cleaner and faster, which means you can achieve a better looking lawn with less time and effort.  Moreover, when the blades on your lawn mower are dull they can stress the grass, making it more susceptible to disease.  We recommend sharpening and balancing your mower blades 1 to 2 times over the course of the growing season.  When this simple practice is combined with some basic engine maintenance it can reduce your fuel costs by as much as twenty-five percent.

The best looking, longest-lasting lawns are the result of a strong team effort where we have an opportunity to work closely with the homeowner to achieve the best possible results.  If you are interested in any of the services we offer, including lawn treatment, tree and shrub maintenance, aeration and over seeding, or fire ant control, please contact Turf Shield to get more information.  Don’t forget to follow Turf Shield on Twitter or Facebook to get all the latest updates and lawn care tips.

4 Steps to Proper Spring Fertilization

With the dark winter months finally behind us, it’s once again time for spring grasses to burst back to life, hungry and ready to be fed.  Early season lawn care is one of the secrets to getting your grass back into tip-top shape for warm-weather barbeques and backyard parties.  At Turf Shield, our team is committed to helping you maintain the health and beauty of your lawn, and so here are some helpful bits of advice to keep in mind when planning your spring fertilization.

4 Steps to Proper Spring FertilizationChoose the Right Fertilizer

When you purchase fertilizer, you’ll notice three numbers on the label.  These numbers represent the percentages of nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium (respectively) that are present in the mix.  A 20-5-10 mixture is a good basic mix for your first application in the spring, although every lawn is different and our lawn care specialists can suggest customized lawn treatment packages to address your lawn’s individual needs.

Control Your Nitrogen Levels

The most nitrogen you need on a lawn is one-tenth of a pound per week; grass can’t get any greener than that and, if you use more, you’re only going to have to mow more often.  Slow-release granules break down slowly over a long period of time, and so need to be applied less often.  Moreover, they are also generally very easy to apply accurately.  Liquid spray fertilizers, on the other hand, can achieve impressive results quickly, but it often can be difficult for a nonprofessional to get a smooth and consistent application across an entire lawn.

Get the Timing Right

Ideally, you should give your lawn its first fertilizer treatment of the year in the spring when the soil temperature reaches about 55 degrees Fahrenheit.  In most parts of the country, this will be around mid-April, when lilacs begin to blossom and the grass starts growing once again.  Provide a second feeding about four weeks later, in early to mid-May, and then every six to eight weeks thereafter.  Our team can provide a variety of regularly scheduled lawn care services to help you keep up with the maintenance.

Don’t Forget to Water

Contrary to what some people think, the more you water your lawn, the more fertilizer it needs.  Before you fertilize, check your local weather forecast. Plan to fertilize just before a day of light, steady rain. You’ll save water and your grass will be well-fed.  Remember that as the grass grows, it uses more water and more nutrients, so if you have a sprinkler system or it is raining often you’ll need to fertilize more frequently, while in drier conditions less fertilization may be necessary.  Our specialists can work with you to determine exactly what schedule will work best for you.

A healthy lawn gives your family a safe and beautiful place to play, while providing the perfect natural frame for your home and life and a professional lawn program can provide the nutrients and protection that a healthy lawn requires.   If you are interested in any of the services we offer, including lawn treatment, tree and shrub maintenance, aeration and over seeding, or fire ant control, please contact us to get more information.  Don’t forget to follow Turf Shield on Facebook and Twitter to get all the latest updates and lawn care tips.

What is Pre-Emergent Weed Control?

Temperatures are rising, and as long as this trend continues, warm season grasses like Zoysia and Bermuda will be coming out of dormancy within the next few weeks. Unfortunately, we’re also coming upon the time when weeds are beginning to germinate (or start sprouting and developing roots). The good news is that at Turf Shield, we can help you get ahead of the game with pre-emergent weed control.

What is Pre-Emergent Weed ControlWhat is pre-emergent weed control?

There are plenty of products and methods we can use to make your yard as weed-free as possible, and one strategy we often recommend is to stop weeds before they’re actually visible with pre-emergent weed control. As the name suggests, these products target weeds before they ever “emerge” and appear from the ground by creating a barrier in the soil which kills the weed as it begins to germinate and grow. The specific option we will use on your lawn will depend on factors like the specific types of weeds which typically grow in your yard.

What are the advantages to using pre-emergent weed control?

One of the most attractive features of pre-emergent weed control, of course, is that you never have to see the weeds develop. Though the treatment may not reach every weed seed, you’ll drastically cut down on the number of weeds you’ll see throughout the season. Another positive point to this strategy is that pre-emergent weed control is a rather low-maintenance plan. Using a pre-emergent in your lawn care plan can limit the number of weed-pulling sessions and additional treatments you’ll need for months.

Can I do my own pre-emergent weed control?

There are products available which you can use to pre-emptively treat your lawn, but for the safest and most successful results, it’s best to work with a professional. Remember, to always follow the directions on the product label very carefully. Some products can do more harm than good if used incorrectly, and some can also stain your concrete or other stone landscaping. The timing and precision of administering the treatment are also crucial to getting the results you’re looking for, so going the DIY route could cost you more time and money later if the treatment is ineffective, if you use a chemical which targets the wrong kinds of weeds, or if it stunts your new grass’ growth.

Your lawn’s health is much like your own health – prevention is key and can save you a significant amount of work, stress, time, and money in the long run. To discuss how we can give you a more enjoyable law year-round, schedule an appointment with Turf Shield. Or, for more helpful lawn care tips, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Protecting Your Yard from a Cold Snap

Protecting Your Yard from a Cold SnapLet’s start with some lawn care basics: a cold snap is defined as “a sudden, brief spell of cold weather.” As many of us know, even though spring has officially arrived, the weather in Georgia can still be unpredictable. One day it’s sunny and 80, the next, you can see your breath in the morning as you head to work in 40 degree weather. While it’s easy for us to grab a jacket to adjust for the back and forth weather commonly seen this time of year, it’s not as simple for our yards. When the first signs of spring start to show, many people use the warmer weather to get ahead on planting, seeding, fertilizing, and other yard work but fluctuating temperatures can end up doing more harm than good if a cold spell occurs, so we’ve rounded up some of our most helpful tips for protecting your yard from a cold snap.

Regardless of your turf (like Zoysia, Bermuda, plants, etc.), cold snaps are arguably more damaging to your grass and other landscaping than in the winter because spring is around the time when plants start to blossom. Waiting until late April through mid-May before starting your spring gardening can serve as a buffer for reducing potential weather-related damage to your new seedlings, but if you’re one of the eager ones who like to start here, a few do’s and don’ts can make a world of difference.

Do’s

  • Pay attention to the weather forecast – just as you’d check for days of rain that will require an umbrella or much needed raincoat, check the forecast to see if any spells of cold could threaten to harm the hard work you’ve put into your lawn. Knowing how long a cold spell is expected and when it will start can help you put a plan of action in effect to prepare your yard BEFORE the freeze starts.
  • Water your landscape – believe it or not, damp soil traps in heat longer and provides more insulation than dry soil. We’re not saying you should over water your lawn in preparedness for the colder temperatures (too much water can be just as damaging as not enough water in some instances) but be conscious of your watering habits to avoid root and crown rot diseases that occur from over watering and prolonged periods of wet soil.
  • Insulate your plants – For light freezes, creating a type of insulation for your plants is key because it helps to trap in warm air from the ground to provide a type of blanket. This can be a sheet or a blanket (never cover a plant with JUST plastic – plastic will damage the plant, but if you use plastic, it just needs a sheet put down first to serve as a type of buffer between your plants and the plastic.

Don’ts

  • Ignore potted plants – hanging plants and plants that are potted need protection from the cold too! Potted plants have even less protection that plants that are in the ground but are far easier to physically move. We suggest bringing potted plants inside the house, or store them in the garage, overnight to keep them warm and safe. If you have massive plants that can’t be easily moved, insulation is your best defense and can be achieved by wrapping the entire container in heavy layers of materials that would help trap in the heat (like blankets or even bubble wrap).
  • Forget to uncover your plants – plants still need sunlight so be sure to uncover your plants the morning after an overnight cold snap to reduce any condensation build up that could cause the plants to freeze if it temperatures continue to drop the next night. Even if you’re expecting a few nights of cold temperatures in a row, you should repeat the process of covering and uncovering for as long as necessary – it may be an extra step before you go to bed but it’ll be well worth it if it can save your beautiful yard and some money when you eliminate having to start all over again from scratch!
  • Give up – even if what you see on the ground level appears to be ruined, don’t give up. Sometimes cold sensitive plants can recover by starting new growth from the roots or base of the plant. It may take some time for that to happen, but just try to be patient and give it a chance to thrive again before you immediately write the plant off as permanently damaged.

Since different plants can be affected by different temperatures, there isn’t a general rule of thumb for protecting each and every type of plant simultaneously. When planning out the landscape for your yard and spring gardening, pay particular closeness to a plants’ hardiness rating which can help you navigate how each plant thrives under certain weather conditions (will it last through extreme cold or does a particular plant need dry, humid air to flourish?) and which ones will perhaps need some assistance to survive sudden temperature drops.

With a team of professionals with over 40 years combined experience, Turf Shield continues to deliver superior lawn care for over 40 years to those who value the health a well-maintained landscape needs and the beauty it can provide. Whether you’re a novice gardener just getting started or a seasoned veteran who’s ready to take their yard to the next level, our variety of lawn care services are uniquely tailored to provide the most ideal results. For more lawn maintenance and landscape tips, stay connected with Turf Shield on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for more!

Welcome to Turf Shield’s new blog

Welcome to Turf Shield’s new blog. Because we have more than 40 years of experience caring for lawns, shrubs, trees, and everything that makes a yard a special place we’ve started this blog to offer our expertise to the public as a way of helping you get the yard you’ve always dreamed of.

healthy lawnWe have a thorough understanding that every yard is different so we take into account the unique combination of your lawn’s personality. A healthy lawn gives your family a safe and beautiful place to play, while providing the perfect natural frame for your home and life. This isn’t always easy with the ever-changing Atlanta weather, so we offer a number of lawn treatment plans and packages to ensure the best possible environment for your particular landscape and budget.

At Turf Shield we are committed to customer satisfaction and to offering the absolute best in everything related to the health and beauty of your lawn. We provide an assortment of lawn care services such as lawn treatment, tree and shrub maintenance, aeration and over seeding, as well as fire ant control. We will be discussing all of these topics in upcoming blogs.

We are looking forward to educating you on everything you need to know about the health and beauty of your turf.