The 411 on Poison Ivy

The 411 on Poison IvyIf you’ve never gotten a poison ivy rash – consider yourself lucky! Many of the Turf Shield team members can recall a summer or two where a fun day outside exploring resulted in an extremely itchy or red skin rash. To protect you and your loved ones from spending free days soaking in soothing oatmeal baths and longing for a bit of relief – we wanted to give you a crash course on poison ivy, what to look for, and what to do in the event you spot this invasive plant invading your own backyard.

Poison ivy is a nondescript green-looking plant that is known to have ruined more than a few camping trips for people. This plant’s leaves always grow in sets of threes (ever heard the saying “leaves of three, let them be”?): two leaves positioned behind a front leaf that is attached at the top of the stem. Capable of thriving in a variety of different conditions and climates, poison ivy can be found growing everywhere from shaded forests and wet river bottoms to sun-filled locations and your own backyard. This type of weed foliage can be yellow, orange, or red, depending on your geography, and the leaves can grow 4-5 inches long (and sometimes be just as wide).

The reason poison ivy gets such a bad rap is because of the chemical its sap releases, called urushiol. 85% of people are sensitive to urushiol oil and whenever their skin comes into direct contact, develop a rash. Only humans are affected by the oily resin but it can remain on just about any surface for up to five years (it can linger on gardening tools, clothing/shoes, and even on the hair or fur of your pet playing in the yard), and even after the leaves have fallen off.

It can take as little as five minutes for poison ivy to absorb into the skin, so it’s imperative that you act quickly if you think you’ve gotten the oil on your skin. If you’re able to wash it off under flowing water soon after exposure, you may be able to reduce the associated symptoms or stop it altogether from getting worse. Change any clothes that may have come into contact with poison ivy immediately and rinse your skin vigorously for at least 30 minutes with soap and cold water.

Ultimately you’re going to want to get rid of this plant to ensure you’re not constantly at risk of exposure. Poison ivy is invasive and can also do damage to your lawn. It can’t be burned because the smoke from the oil can be inhaled and toxic/lethal – so we definitely advise against that method! A most effective solution would be to use Turf Shield’s lawn care expertise to ensure the safety of not only your yard but you and your loved ones. All of the poison ivy plant (roots and all) have to be removed or else they can easily find another nearby spot to occupy and take over. If you suspect poison ivy is lurking and creating havoc in your own backyard, don’t hesitate to contact Turf Shield for information regarding poison ivy treatment and our additional lawn services today.

How Do I Choose a Type of Grass?

best type of grassAt Turf Shield, we’ve created our blog as a place homeowners can look to for lawn care tips and quick advice from our professionals. But arguably the most important step toward building and maintaining a lawn you and your family can enjoy is selecting the right type of grass to begin with. Few people realize just how many varieties of grass are available to choose from and how much these brands vary. That’s why we’re here – to break down the choices and help you choose the best type of grass for your yard based on factors like geography, shading, budget, maintenance levels, and more.

What types of grass will thrive in Atlanta?

The best way to begin choosing a grass is by looking closely at where you’re located, because this effects the temperature, soil, and seasonal changes, all of which will impact your checklist of what to look for in your grass. The most important distinction is whether your region is ideal for “cool season” or “warm season” grasses. Interestingly, Atlanta lies at the junction of these two areas. For the most part, warm season grasses are best for residents of metro Atlanta, although the farther north you are, the most likely you are to need a cool season grass instead. Here’s a closer look at the five most commonly successful grasses in the Atlanta area:

Bermuda Grass:

  • Grows well on a wide variety of soils
  • Goes dormant as soon as the temperature drops in the fall (giving it a brown color), but survives cold temperatures well and returns to green in the spring
  • Resistant to heavy foot traffic
  • Needs plenty of sun and little or no shade to grow well
  • Grows aggressively, which means that it can take to your lawn quickly, but it can be difficult to keep from invading flower beds, gardens, and landscaping areas
  • Low-maintenance lawn care

Centipede Grass:

  • Grows slowly but aggressively, so it can choke out weeds but takes several months to take to your lawn
  • Can be easily kept from invading flower beds, gardens, and landscaped areas
  • Can grow successfully in soil with poor fertility
  • Low-maintenance and more resistant to many pests
  • Fairly tolerant of cold, but can be killed by extended temperatures of 5 degrees or lower
  • Can tolerate a small amount of shade
  • May be damaged by temperature swings in the spring

St. Augustine Grass:

  • Survives drought conditions well
  • Moderately resistant to heavy foot traffic, though not as durable as some other varieties
  • Can tolerate a small to moderate amount of shade
  • Ideal for moist, semi-fertile soils
  • Grows aggressively, so it can provide some weed control, but can also be controlled around borders
  • Poor cold tolerance – can be damaged when temperatures fall below 20 degrees

Zoysia Grass:

  • Highly tolerant of drought conditions, though it does become dormant in extreme drought
  • Grows slowly
  • Tolerates very little shade
  • Can endure a moderate amount of foot traffic
  • Highly aggressive, which means that it can choke out many weeds, but that it can also spread into flower beds and other unwanted areas

Tall Fescue

  • Grows very quickly during the spring and fall
  • Cool season grass, which means it’s most successful the farther north you are
  • Tolerates shade and high foot traffic well
  • Not as drought-resistant as most warm season grasses
  • Can go dormant in hot weather, returning to green when the weather cools
  • Must be reseeded every fall, because it does not spread by the root system in the way warm season grasses do

While we’ve laid out a helpful summary, choosing your lawn is a complex decision, and a grass that has thrived for your neighbor may be unsuccessful for you. To find out what type of grass best fits your needs and how to best take care of it, schedule a consultation with one of our experienced lawn care professionals who can evaluate the many features of your yard and recommend the ideal grass for you and your family.

Tips for Smart Summer Watering

Tips for Smart Summer WateringSummertime in the south can play havoc on your lawn.  One minute your grass can be drying out under intense, punishing heat and the next it can be drowning under a torrential summer thunderstorm.  During this tumultuous time of year, being able to adapt your lawn care strategy to changing conditions is extremely important, because providing too much water can be just as problematic as providing too little.  So here are some helpful watering tips to keep in mind so that you can keep your lawn healthy and lush all summer long.

Plan Your Lawn to Fit Your Location

There are many varieties of grass, each adapted to thrive under differing conditions, and choosing a grass that is suited to your region will make care and maintenance far easier.  In the south, either Zoysia or Bermuda are good choices, as they are both naturally drought-tolerant and don’t need regular watering.  A tall fescue may look and feel nice, but unless you have a chance to water it often it will die out quickly, leaving you worse off than you started.  Tall fescue is also vulnerable to various diseases that can do extensive damage to the turf in times of stress.

Water Your Turf Efficiently

Watering grass during the hottest parts of the day is a waste of time, as the majority of the moisture will be absorbed into the hot air before it ever reaches the grass’s roots.  Instead, plan to water very early in the morning, before it gets too hot. This way, most of the water will make it to the roots, but the grass blades will still dry quickly, preventing disease and fungus.  For maximum efficiency, limit watering to once a week for about an hour or so.  Watering every day encourages both a shallow root system, which is less able to tolerate drought, and annoying weeds like dollarweed and nutgrass that thrive in moist soil.

Mow Only When Necessary

When the weather is hot, it is often advisable to let grass grow a bit longer than usual.  When grass is cut, it can lose a great deal of moisture through the cut blades, which can turn grass brown if you are unable to water it frequently.  In drought conditions, taller grass can also help shade and cool the ground, reducing moisture loss and helping the grass stay greener.  Conversely, a lower height provides air and light that encourages new weeds to sprout.  During the summer we recommend only mowing the grass after it has rained for at least two days in a row and that you set your lawn mower blades at their highest setting.

Ground water is a precious, and sadly increasingly limited, natural resource.  Taking some precautions to make sure that you use that resource both effectively and responsibly is the best way to ensure that you’ll be able to enjoy your lawn for many years to come.  If you have questions about your lawn, or about any of the customized lawn care treatment packages that we provide, 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.

Why’s My Lawn Turning Brown?

Image of Lawn with dying grassIt’s the perfect time of year to get outside and enjoy some great weather and the Turf Shield team can’t think of a better place than your own backyard. But imagine working all year to make sure your lawn is healthy and green, and then suddenly you notice brown spots/patches running the landscape. What gives? Your lawn leaves visual clues when something isn’t quite right and since there can be a number of reasons why your lawn is turning brown, here are some of the top causes that could potentially affect your own yard.

Growing Conditions

Lack of nutrients and/or water to the soil causes grass to turn brown (because basically it doesn’t have the food needed to thrive). In the same respects, too much water or too little can stress out grass. For those of you that live in areas prone to droughts, paying close attention to how much water your lawn requires to thrive helps to reduce chances that your lawn becomes drought-dormant. Drought-dormant lawns mean grass isn’t getting adequate water and starts to focus on the roots by going into survival mode to try to prevent it from dying off.

Weeds can also cause competition for grass – as both feed off the same supply – so it’s handy to water only when needed and slow down the browning process before your yard starts to look like brittle straw. Controlling weeds can be tricky, depending on the types of weeds growing in your yard, and being mindful of what’s present, the appropriate type of lawn maintenance for the type of grass you have, and implementing an effective treatment plan as early as possible can all help stop progressive growth before it gets out of control.

People & Pets

Believe it or not, people and pets can destroy lawns over time. For people, foot traffic is one of the biggest culprits that contribute to brown lawns. When parts of your yard get trampled over and over again it disrupts soil compaction and leaves parts of your lawn lacking sufficient soil. Not enough soil + not enough nutrition = brown grass. Of course some areas of high foot traffic aren’t avoidable and will leave the grass damaged but if a walkway is installed, it can help redirect traffic and give you a chance to repair a destroyed lawn.

As for our pets, it’s their waste that does the most damage, especially coming from dogs. Dog’s urine is very acidic so whenever they go to the bathroom on the lawn, it turns it into yellow patches of dead grass. The more your pet uses the same area to pee (dogs tend to have favorite spots they go to or feel the need to “mark their territory” to cover the scent of a dog that came through before), the more damage it does collectively. If you take this a step further, think of what it can do to someone else’s yard. Try to be mindful when walking your pet as their urine could inadvertently be ruining their yard.

At-Home Lawn Treatments

Even with the best of intentions, sometimes the do-it-yourself approach to lawn care can be extremely damaging to lawns. First, and possibly one of the most notorious offenders, are chemical treatments. Fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, insect repellents, and even gasoline spills can cause burned or dead grass. Knowing the appropriate amount of fertilizer to use not only reduces excessive growth (this happens when too much fertilizer is used) but the lack of nutrition (this happens when there’s not enough fertilizer used), so follow recommended feeding schedules for your specific fertilizer and grass type. Insecticides and herbicides can also be extremely damaging if spilled or if too much is used to treat your lawn. Following the manufacturer’s specific application instructions is your best defense if working on your lawn maintenance and not using professional lawn care treatments and services.

A little investigation can go a long way when trying to figure out the source of your browning lawn. Since there can be a number of reasons from disease to human error (plus the many others that we didn’t include this time), diagnosing the cause with the help of a trusted lawn care team can fight the problem before it gets bigger. We offer comprehensive lawn care packages to make your lawn as healthy as it can be, so if you’re combating a brown lawn and are interested in learning more about our lawn care services, contact Turf Shield today.

“There’s Ants in Them Thar Hills!”

fire-ant-control-atlanta-gaAt first glance, lawns seem pretty basic – just soil and grass. But below the surface, there’s far more going on than most homeowners realize, and there are countless different pests and problems which can disturb the delicate ecosystem and cause some real headaches. Among the most common of these pests that our lawn care specialists see are ants. For the most part, people see ants as a nuisance but as a rather innocuous insect (other than fire ants, of course – they’re a whole different ball game). But unfortunately, they can actually do some significant harm to your lawn, so if you’re seeing signs that these unwelcome tenants have moved in, it’s time to put ant control on your to-do list.

About Ants

As most people know, there are many, many different species of ants. While they each have variations in behavior, they cause rather similar problems for your yard regardless of the species (but more on the damage they cause later). Ants tend to thrive best in hot, dry weather, and while we see ant hills as being their homes, the hill is just the front door. Ants live in colonies and create extensive tunnel systems underground, and the hill is formed by the soil and other particles they remove to build their tunnels.

How Ants Can Damage Your Lawn

The primary lawn care problem ants cause is in their tunneling and their hills. The tunnels can damage the roots of your grass, creating patches of dead grass. The ant hills themselves are also a problem, because they can damage mower blades, cause the lawn to be mowed at an uneven height, and create a risk for kids, pets, and anyone else who may be walking or running through your yard and trip on them. While ants may help to control the population of certain other unwanted insects, some species of ants also have a tendency to “farm” specific pests like aphids and mealybugs so they can feast on a unique substance these bugs secrete.

How to Get Rid of Lawn Ants

In some cases of an early lawn ant infestation, you may be able to keep the problems at bay by raking any ant hills in your yard on a weekly basis. Keep in mind that this doesn’t actually get rid of the ants, it simply keeps the ant hills from becoming too large and creating problems. For a more thorough solution, call a professional lawn care specialist who can evaluate your needs and offer the ideal treatment option.

Lawn issues like ant infestations aren’t 100% preventable, but the best way to keep your yard as clear as possible is to keep up with a healthy lawn care schedule, and to keep an eye out for signs of trouble so you can tackle problems before they get worse. To learn more about what we can do for your specific lawn, schedule a consultation with Turf Shield and we’ll be happy to answer all your questions and offer our expertise.

Pest Infestations That Can Destroy Your Lawn

Pest Infestations That Can Destroy Your LawnMaintaining a healthy and beautiful lawn can be a complicated job, with many different factors and potential difficulties to take into consideration, which is one of the reasons why the specialists at Turf Shield offer customized lawn care treatment packages that can be tailored to specific lawn care needs.  Among the most irritating and vexing of these concerns are common garden-variety pests, the tiny insects that can sometimes take root and cause major damage before you even realize that they are there.  Georgia is home to a wide variety of these lawn pests, but the most common fall into three basic categories: soil-inhabitants, thatch-inhabitants, and the ubiquitous fire ants.  At Turf Shield we believe that educating our customers about all issues involving lawn care is the best way to ensure that they can enjoy a truly top-notch lawn.

Soil Inhabitants

These insects spend the majority of their life cycle deep underneath the soil feeding on the parts of the grass that are below the ground’s surface.  Their presence results in patches of wilted, dead, or dying grass and the sod may be disturbed in areas where wildlife or pets try to dig them up.  Soil-Inhabiting insects include mole crickets, billbugs (a form of weevil), and white grubs, which are thought to be among the most damaging turf insect pests in the United States.  Treating an infestation of pests living beneath the soil often requires the application of insecticides at the root zone of the grass.  Because the correct timing and method of application are so important for optimal results, we recommend you consult with one of our lawn care specialists before attempting any pest control treatment.

Leaf, Stem, and Thatch Inhabitants

These insects live in the cut and broken plant matter that cover the surface of the soil, feeding off the grass stalks themselves.  They are usually most apparent when the grass is cut off close to the ground, and they can cause irregular spots of yellowish turf or dead spots where their infestations go unchecked.  Thatch inhabitants like cutworms and armyworms are actually the caterpillar stages of different species of moths, but they can also include tiny beetles like chinch bugs and spittlebugs.  Because these insects thrive in areas with heavy thatch accumulation, periodic thatch removal is often the best way to address an infestation, but specialized irrigation techniques can also be used to both diagnose and treat the problem.

Fire Ants

The Red Imported Fire Ant, common to most areas of Georgia, does not actually feed on the turf grass itself; it preys on other insects and dead animals.  However, the mounds that they build (which can reach up to two feet in diameter and up to eight inches tall) are unsightly and rob the grass they cover from much-needed sunlight.  Moreover, because the toxins released by the ants disrupt the vascular systems of surrounding plants and because the ants themselves are very aggressive and will swarm out of their nest to attack if disturbed, most people are eager to get rid of them as quickly as possible.  At Turf Shield we offer a unique, specialized fire ant treatment that can help eliminate these pests to make sure your lawn is a more enjoyable place for your family to spend time throughout the year.

Pest control is a vital part of any lawn care treatment plan, but due to the wide variety of insects and symptoms that may be involved, it is important that the pests be accurately identified so that the most appropriate method of control can be used.  If you have questions about your pest problems, or about any of the customized lawn care treatment packages that we provide, 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.

Yard Killing Plants You Should Know About

Yard Killing Plants You Should Know AboutThis time of year we start to see yards shake off the last remnants of winter as flowers and plants burst into bloom. A nicely manicured lawn full of vivid bright colors, fluttering butterflies, and fragrant smells that fill the air – what’s not to love? At Turf Shield, our motto is “we make your lawn healthy and that makes you happy” because it’s a matter of pride and happiness in your home and a matter we don’t take lightly. For many gardeners, spring and summer are great times to be outdoors and spruce up the yard, whether tending to returning plants or adding new ones to the family. Before you pick just any plant to add, we want to share some of the top yard killing plants you should know about to help protect your yard and your investment.

There’s a term we like to use for plants that can be harmful when introduced to certain environments which are called invasive plants. Invasive plants are types of weed plants that are considered aggressive because they grow and spread, ultimately destroying or displacing other plants nearby. They aren’t ideal for your yard because they can get out of control and cause a lot of damage to your yard. Trees, shrubs, vines, grasses, and flowers can all have invasive species and use their roots, seeds, shoots (and sometimes all three) to help them reproduce faster. Here are four common types of invasive plants that could require more than your average weed control:

  • English Ivy – Formally known as hedera helix, English Ivy may look pretty as it sprawls across lawns, traverses up the side of buildings and blooms with delicate flowers, but beware – these climbers can reach heights of 50’ or more and can be poisonous to you and your yard. Some homeowners may fancy English Ivy because of its great ability to cover walls, but the holdfasts (aerial root-like structures that help the ivy latch onto surfaces) can be extremely damaging to trees by blocking much needed sunlight, adding weight to the tree to cause instability, and even destroy the tree’s bark.
  • Forget-Me-Nots – This simple, yet elegant, little plant may look innocent, but it’s far from it. Fans of shady, moist areas, forget-me-nots grow extremely quickly and lack the sort of natural checks and balances that keep it from overtaking other plants in the yard and threaten their livelihood. Forget-me-nots can be an easily treatable plant but requires total removal of the root system or else new forget-me-nots will start to sprout just as quickly as they were removed; therefore, it would seem to be a fitting name because unless you stop them before they get out of control, they’re simply unforgettable.
  • Pachysandra –Also called Japanese spurge, Pachysandra provides year-round evergreen ground cover and even blooms sweet white flowers in early spring. Pachysandra can thrive in partial/full shade and is deer, rabbit, and drought-resistant, with the ability to cover the ground with its lush blanket within a few years. This seemingly low maintenance plant may seem ideal, but Pachysandra is one that can take over quickly, damage woodlands and streambeds, and be very stubborn to get rid of without the help of professional lawn care services.
  • Bindweed – Trying to eradicate this type of climbing vine is not something that you can do on your own in one go. This thread-like vine has a large, hardy root system and a tendency to wrap tightly around competing plants or latch onto other nearby upward items. Bindweed can silently creep into your yard unnoticed until it starts to bloom trumpet shaped white or pink flowers that resemble morning glory. Since its root system can get really deep, bindweed has the possibility of encroaching into a neighbor’s lawn and spreading to the farthest corners of your own yard. Hand-pulling this weed would take years, or even your entire life, to destroy them, and trying to uproot it with a hoe only helps spread the bindweed more.

If left to their own devices, it can take years to successfully get rid of invasive plants, not to mention lawn treatment for invasive plants can ultimately become quite costly. It is always a great thing when you’re able to save time and money on lawn care, but knowing what potential dangers could be lurking in your yard will ultimately help you stop a problem before it spreads. For more information on the services we offer, don’t hesitate to contact Turf Shield at 678-502-7589 today. We share the latest lawn maintenance and landscape tips on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, so stay connected with Turf Shield so you don’t miss out!

Keeping Kids and Pets Safe During a Lawn Care Treatment

Keeping Kids and Pets Safe During a Lawn Care TreatmentA lush, beautiful lawn can be a great space for a family to enjoy, connect with each other, and take a break from the day-to-day. But certain lawn care treatments like pesticide or fertilizer application need to be handled with care, so be sure to follow the directions on the label precisely to ensure they are used properly and safely. This doesn’t mean you can’t reap their benefits – it simply means you need to exercise caution, and the tips below can help.

Follow instructions. Every chemical is different and has its own guidelines in terms of how long you should keep your family off the lawn after it has been applied. The most common recommendation is 24 hours, but our team at Turf Shield can provide you with more detailed instructions based on your specific needs.

Start by talking to us about your options. Various lawn treatments may seem like they have the same goal, but they may be better suited to particular types of grass, environments, uses, etc. This is one reason homeowners are typically happier if they hire a professional to do the job right the first time, rather than treating the lawn themselves and not knowing what type of products to use or when to administer them.

Before the treatment, clear away any outside objects. Toys, lawn furniture, and other items can be accidentally sprayed or can have the chemicals transferred by contact or even by the wind, so bring these items inside before the treatment begins.

Steer clear of pavements. Just as with outdoor objects, pavements can come into contact with the pesticides as well, particularly when a homeowner is doing their own yard work. This can lead to dangerous contact with pets or children, and the chemicals can also be swept into the water supply by rain, so it’s best to work with a professional who understands their equipment and can be more precise.

Wipe everyone’s paws and shoes when they come inside. This is only necessary during the first few days after your lawn treatment, but it can be an important way to keep the products from being tracked inside (even if the pets and kids haven’t been on the grass) in case they did land on the pavement.

Put up signs about the recent treatment. This serves two purposes: first, it alerts neighbors and passersby to keep their pets and children from stepping onto your lawn, and second, if you have kids, it can serve as a reminder to them in case they’ve forgotten to stay off the grass.

Having a healthy lawn typically requires more than simply a regular mowing, and while the idea of chemicals or pesticides is nerve-wracking to some homeowners, rest assured that we only use EPA-approved products which are safe when used correctly and when the proper precautions are taken. This means you can enjoy a happy lawn while still providing a safe environment for your family. To start discussing a plan for your lawn, schedule a consultation with Turf Shield.

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.