4 New Year’s Resolutions for Your Lawn

With 2017 nearing its end, it is time to begin looking ahead to the New Year. More specifically, it is time to begin looking ahead to next spring and the upcoming growing season. We know keeping New Year’s resolutions can be tough, but when it comes to achieving and maintaining a healthy, green lawn, putting in the time and energy can prove very beneficial when next year rolls around. When the weather permits, the start of a new year can be an excellent time to get to work crafting and cultivating the lawn your home deserves. So with this in mind, the lawn care experts at Turf Shield have a few tips to help bring out the best in your yard next year and beyond.

4 New Year’s Resolutions for Your Lawn

Resolution #1: I Will Prioritize Aeration
Healthy soil is the foundation of a healthy lawn. But over time the soil can become hard and compacted (especially for yards that experience heavy foot traffic). This can lead to grass being unable to absorb the nutrients it needs and your lawn becoming thin and infested with weeds. That’s why it’s so important to aerate your lawn. Aeration also helps avoid soil compaction and improves the ability of your grass to take in much-needed air, water, and nutrients. Additionally, aerating your lawn can help your grass develop strong, healthy roots to promote optimal lawn health over time.

Resolution #2: I Will Water Properly
How (and how often) you water your grass is among the most essential factors that affects the health of your lawn. Watering contributes to the development of deep, strong roots and healthy green grass. But only when it’s done right. Your yard will require about one inch of water per week to remain at peak health. This water should be delivered in one deep, heavy watering session; not a number of light sprinklings. Try to find a high-quality sprinkler that can evenly distribute water to your entire yard.

Resolution #3: I Will Mow Regularly
There is a common misconception that mowing the lawn is merely a cosmetic lawn treatment. However, this is far from the truth. We recommend not taking more than 1/3 of the leaf blade off while mowing. The longer the leaf is, the deeper the rooting system will be. This means your grass will have an easier time absorbing nutrients and water from the soil. Try to keep your blades sharp for a more precise cut. If need be, we also suggest having your mower blades sharpened by a professional in order to make sure they are up to snuff.

Resolution #4: I Will Make Time for Overseeding
Lastly, many lawns can benefit from overseeding treatment. Overseeding is a process in which grass seed is planted on pre-existing turf. This is commonly recommended for lawns with large, bare patches that result from insect infestations or drought conditions. Instead of waiting for these trouble spots to fix themselves, overseeding can be a great way to take charge and give your lawn the extra help it needs.

If you find yourself having problems sticking to your resolutions, you can always call on the lawn care professionals at Turf Shield. Our experts can custom tailor a lawn care plan to your specific yard to make sure your yard is receiving the best-possible treatment as we enter the New Year. For more information or to schedule a consultation please contact Turf Shield today and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for more lawn care tips, updates and more.

Summer Lawn Pests

Summer Lawn PestsFrom shifting weather conditions to specific kinds of weeds, every Georgia home-owner knows that each season brings its own unique lawn care challenges. One of these varying challenges is pest control. Different trouble-making insects wreak havoc on your grass at different times of the year. For the typical lawn-owner in Georgia, there are three primary pests to look out for in the summer:

Southern Chinch Bugs

Interestingly, these bugs are particularly damaging for St. Augustine grasses (a common type of grass used in Georgia), although they can cause mild damage to other types of warm season turf as well. Southern chinch bugs suck the moisture from your grass, then inject a poison that kills it, ultimately leaving dead patches that look much like drought damage. You can reduce your risk of southern chinch bugs by keeping your lawn trimmed (since these pests thrive in wet thatch), and by steering clear of overwatering and overfertilizing. If you do find your yard infested with these insects, call Turf Shield Lawn Care to set up a consultation and discuss your pest control options.

Grubs

The term “grubs” actually includes the immature forms of several different types of beetles. Typically living just under the surface of your soil, they like to eat grass roots, often until you could simply lift up an area of your grass like carpet. Grubs tend to mate in early summer, and then lay eggs which hatch around mid to late summer and reach their peak feeding age in early fall. Start keeping an eye out for grubs now so that you can treat them while they’re still susceptible to pesticides and before they cause serious damage.

Caterpillars

As with grubs, there are several types of caterpillars that can do serious lawn damage, although the most common varieties include tropical sod webworm and fall armyworm. These pests feed on the actual blades of grass, biting holes out of them before ultimately eating away larger areas of grass. You can limit your susceptibility to caterpillar damage by applying water and fertilizer appropriately (not excessively), and by seeking treatment as soon as you notice caterpillars in your yard.

Getting your lawn in tip-top shape (and keeping it that way) is a never-ending job. There’s a lot to learn if you want to adjust for the many seasonal issues that can affect your grass. That’s why our professional lawn care experts at Turf Shield are here to help. To find out what we can do for your grass, schedule a consultation with us today, or for more lawn care tips, follow Turf Shield on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Do Temperature Fluctuations Hurt My Plants?

Do Temperature Fluctuations Hurt My PlantsLawn care is all dependent on the season. There are certain steps you need to take during the spring, during the summer, during the fall, and during the winter to keep your grass and other plants healthy. But what happens when the temperatures swing so much that it seems as if all four seasons are happening in one week? In metro Atlanta, we’ve had our share of temperature fluctuations in the past few months, and while it seems like there is more consistency heading our way, the recent issues have left homeowners asking, “can all these temperature changes hurt my plants?”

Unfortunately, the answer is yes, they can. Each species of tree, shrub, and other plant has a certain range of temperatures it can endure without damage. This should be a factor when you first choose the types of plants you want in your yard. But even if all of your plants can withstand the typical temperatures we see in a Georgia winter, they need a period of time to adjust and essentially “brace themselves” for the cold. Normally, autumn serves this purpose.

But in the case of our recent weather, several weeks of warm, spring-like weather were followed by a sudden cold snap. Even if that colder temperature is well within a particular plant’s tolerance range, when the plant is accustomed to warmer weather and does not have time to adjust to a sudden cold snap, the lower temperatures can cause damage than they normally would.

So what can you do to protect your plants from sudden drops in temperature? It all depends on the specific plants in your yard, so our lawn care experts at Turf Shield Lawn Care can give you more direct guidance. But in the meantime, here are a few tips:

  • Make sure the trees and shrubs you have are well-suited to the climate of the southeastern US.
  • If you’re expecting a sudden cold snap, cover the susceptible plants with quilts, plastic, blankets, or other items to minimize the cold.
  • If your soil is dry, consider watering your plants a day or two before the drop in temperature, because this can help the soil hold in more heat.
  • Take precautions to keep your plants healthy all year round, to help them stay stronger and potentially less sensitive to cold snaps.

For homeowners who are dedicated to having a beautiful and healthy lawn, the uncontrollable temperature can be quite a burden. But there are always measures you can take to reduce damage and hopefully keep your plants healthy and happy. To find out what you can do to have a more enjoyable lawn, schedule a consultation with Turf Shield Lawn Care.

When Should I Fertilize My Lawn in the Spring?

When Should I Fertilize My Lawn in the SpringWhile the Georgia weather has been all over the map, it appears that we can finally look forward to more consistent spring weather. Understandably, because our warm-season grass here in the South goes dormant and turns an unhappy brown throughout the winter, many homeowners want to head outside with a dose of fertilizer at the first sign of warmth, to help their grass return to its bright green as quickly as possible. While fertilizing in the spring can be a vital part of lawn care, there are some things you need to know first.

  • Do not fertilize too early.

When your grass is still coming out of dormancy, it is particularly sensitive to fertilizer, and during this stage, the fertilizer can actually damage the grass. To make sure your fertilizer truly helps your lawn rather than hurting it, you should postpone lawn fertilization until you’re sure that the grass is fully out of dormancy—a good rule of thumb is to wait until you’ve had to mow three times. In our area, this generally happens during April or early May, but it varies from one location, grass type, and soil type to the next.

  • Get a soil test before you fertilize.

Fertilizer is not one-size-fits-all. Everyone’s soil has its own deficiencies, so to make your fertilization efforts go as far as possible, it’s always a good idea to start with a soil test to see what nutrients your lawn needs most. This will allow you or your lawn care professional to more accurately choose the right type of fertilizer, or to know if there are other lawn treatments you may need.

  • Don’t hesitate to hire a lawn care professional.

Fertilizing correctly can be trickier than it sounds, from getting the right timing, to selecting the right fertilizer, to applying it in the correct amounts. Hiring a professional lawn care specialist will put your mind at ease that your fertilization be as successful as possible to help your lawn grow lush and beautiful so you can enjoy it throughout the summer.

Remember, fertilizing is an important part of making your lawn as beautiful and enjoyable as it can be, but it’s only one part. To discuss professional lawn fertilization as well as pre-emergent weed control, pest control, aeration, seeding, or other treatments your grass may need, schedule a consultation with our experienced lawn care experts at Turf Shield.

March Pruning for Trees and Shrubs

March Pruning for Trees and ShrubsWinter is a time when most of the plants around us become dormant—trees, shrubs, and in warm climates like here in Georgia, even grass. But despite what most homeowners think, this doesn’t mean the winter is lawn maintenance-free. As we gear up for March, one of the best ways you can help your landscape is by having certain trees and shrubs pruned—an activity many people think of as a spring task.

Why should I prune during the winter?

There are actually a number of reasons why late winter—particularly February and early March—is an ideal pruning time for many plants. First, it’s easier to see the structure of the tree or shrub while it’s bare of leaves. Second, the timing primes the plant for faster and more robust growth when warmer weather arrives. And third, it limits the spread of diseases. Tree illnesses can be spread during the pruning process by creating open wounds on the tree, which allows access to disease-carrying lawn pests (as well as any illnesses which might transfer through your shears, saws, or whatever else you use for pruning).

Which plants should I prune during the winter?

Not all your plants should have the same pruning schedule. The ideal trees and shrubs to prune in winter are those which flower in the summer, including fruit trees, roses, and certain varieties of hydrangeas. However, avoid winter pruning for any trees or shrubs which flower in the spring, as well as roses that bloom only once per season, gardenias, and most evergreens. You may also want to avoid winter pruning for any “bleeding trees”—maples, birches, dogwoods, walnuts, and elms. These trees produce large amounts of sap if they’re pruned in winter, which isn’t typically harmful, but it can make for a messy job.

Pruning Tips

For many homeowners, the concept of pruning sounds easy, but when they actually find themselves in front of the tree, they’re not sure exactly what to cut. Here are a few tree care tips to help:

  • Start by removing any dead or diseased limbs.
  • Your ultimate goal is to accentuate your tree’s natural structure, keep it from becoming overgrown, and allow enough air circulation throughout the foliage.
  • Choose a mild, dry day to prune.
  • Remove any branches which rub against each other.
  • Cut off any “suckers” or “water sprouts” – straight, narrow stems which come up from the base of the tree.
  • Never remove more than 25% of a plant’s volume in one season.

When should I call in a professional?

While you may be able to do your own pruning with some practice and research, many homeowners prefer to hire a professional like our experts at Turf Shield Lawn Care. Over-pruning and under-pruning can put a damper on the appearance of your trees and shrubs, and a professional also knows how to prune properly to keep your trees and shrubs as healthy as possible. Safety is also an important factor, so especially for those who don’t have the equipment they need to prune their trees safely and comfortably, it may be best to hire someone who does.

Maintaining a beautiful lawn and landscape may not sound difficult at first, but between pruning, seeding, weed control, pest control, fertilizing, and more, it can add up to be quite a handful. To learn more about how Turf Shield can take the burden off your shoulders while also giving you a more lush, beautiful lawn, schedule a lawn care consultation. Or, for more lawn care tips and to learn about our business, follow Turf Shield on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Gift Ideas for the Lawn Care Enthusiast

gift-ideas-for-the-lawn-care-enthusiastThis time of the year, the lawn isn’t many Atlantans’ primary focus. Not only are most lawns dormant right now because they’re composed of warm season grasses, but the recent holidays have left us with a long to-do list so we have plenty of other tasks to focus on. But for people who are passionate about beautiful yards (like our professionals at Turf Shield Lawn Care), it’s always in the back of our minds. If you’re still looking for a belated gift for a lawn care enthusiast on your shopping list this year, here are a few ideas they’ll love.

A good pair of working gloves

Yardwork can be hard on your body, but particularly on your hands, which can blister easily from the friction of a shovel or other equipment you use to care for your lawn and/or garden. Investing in a pair of nice, high-quality gloves can save a gardener or lawn care enthusiast days of painful blisters and scratches.

Digital rain gauge

We’ve mentioned in some of our past lawn care blogs that before watering your lawn, you should consider how much rain you’ve recently received so you don’t saturate or dry out your grass. While some people rely on their local weather stations, the amount of rain can vary greatly from one part of town to the next, so it’s best to have your own gauge so you can see what has actually fallen on your yard. Fortunately for us, it’s the 21st century, so rather than trekking outside to check your rain gauge every day, you can use a digital one instead which casts the measurements to a monitor inside your home or an app on your phone.

A consultation and lawn care treatment with Turf Shield

Turf Shield Lawn isn’t a company who will mow your lawn every week. We’re truly seasoned experts who can diagnose any problems your yard may have, from pests to irrigation issues. We also offer a wide variety of lawn treatments, like weed control, aeration, tree and shrub care, and pest control—jobs that are often beyond the reach of a do-it-yourselfer. Our consultations are complimentary, so a consultation and initial lawn treatment (depending on what the particular yard may need) can be a great gift to help out anyone who wants a fuller, more lush lawn by the spring.

Indoor-outdoor thermometer

Keeping a close eye on the temperature, humidity, and other weather measurements can also help a lawn care enthusiast know what they need to do to keep their lawn as healthy as possible and to adapt to the seasonal climate. Many digital thermometers use two different pieces—a sensor which goes out in your yard and a small indoor monitor which shows you a number of different readings throughout the day.

Wireless speakers

Once your loved one has worked so hard to achieve a beautiful, healthy lawn, they naturally want to be able to enjoy it. When the weather gets warmer, wireless speakers will let them listen to all their favorites in the great outdoors. Just be sure to get one that’s designed to be taken outside so it can withstand the humidity and the elements.

The holidays present us with the unique opportunity to show our family and friends how much they mean to us by thoughtfully choosing gifts for them which reflect their interests, goals, and hobbies. If there’s someone on your list who enjoys caring for their lawn, there are plenty of gifts you can find to help them enjoy their outdoor haven even more. If you’re interested in a consultation and lawn treatment for you or a loved one, schedule your free lawn care consultation with Turf Shield.

Your December Lawn Care To-Do List

Your December Lawn Care To-Do ListFor many people, December is not peak gardening season. As the end of the year rolls around, it’s common for many of us to shift our attention away from lawn care and towards the Holiday season. However, ignoring your lawn throughout December can be costly. Plants can be lost, trees can be damaged and your lawn can take the full brunt of the harsh winter cold. That’s why we like to advise homeowners to be mindful of a few minor winter routines that can pay big dividends down the road.

Despite conventional wisdom, there is much you can do in December to maintain your lawn and garden. Just a bit of regular maintenance and knowhow this December can go a long way towards protecting your lawn from the winter cold and having it prepared to triumphantly return to its lush, green form when spring time comes around again.

A few important things we always include on our own personal to-do lists, that can keep your lawn alive through a long, cold December and ready to thrive in the new year, include:

Lawn

  • Winterize all lawn equipment and tools according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Fertilize before the first freeze to replace all of the nutrients in the soil that may have been lost during the hot summer months.
  • Regularly rake gently to prevent leaves from piling up.
  • Clean and service your lawn mower to ensure it’s ready for next season.
  • Treat lawns for potential pests.
  • Check out plant and seed catalogues for ideas for next year.

Trees & Shrubs

  • Continue adding mulch to trees and shrubs.
  • Protect your shrubbery from rodents and other animals who may seek alternate food sources during the winter.
  • Defend trees and shrubs against frost.
  • Continue planting trees, shrubs and hedges for next year.

Taking these handy steps can help put you ahead of the game come next spring. If you would prefer to curl up by the fireplace and leave the lawn care to the professionals, you can always call the experts at Turf Shield. Contact Turf Shield today for your year-round lawn care needs and reap the benefits of letting the pros handle the yardwork for you. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter & Google+ for additional tips, stories & developments in the world of lawn maintenance.

Should I Rake My Leaves or Leave Them on My Lawn?

Should I Rake My Leaves or Leave Them on My LawnChanging leaves truly makes autumn a beautiful season, especially in such a tree-rich area as Georgia. That is, until you realize that the leaves will soon fall all over your beautiful lawn. But what’s the best way to deal with leaves? Is raking leaves only an aesthetic choice, or does it actually impact the health and longevity of your lawn? Our lawn care professionals at Turf Shield are happy to tackle some of these most common questions homeowners ask dealing with leaves on their lawn.

Is it unhealthy to leave leaves on my lawn?

It really depends on how thick your leaf coverage is. A small number of leaves scattered around your yard won’t generally cause problems, but if you have more than perhaps 10-20% of your lawn covered by leaves, it is important that you address the leaves. If too many leaves are left on your lawn for too long (and especially if they’re still there when winter begins), they can smother the grass, provide a breeding ground for mold and certain lawn pests, and limit the grass’ growth in the spring.

What are the best ways to leaves off my lawn?

Raking your lawn is, of course, the first thought that comes to mind, but many homeowners prefer to look for other methods to avoid the strenuous physical labor, and In fact, other options may be more beneficial for your lawn. One of the best choices is mulching your leaves: using a mower (ideally a mulching mower) or another method to chop up the leaves into tiny pieces and then leaving them on your grass. This allows the leaf matter to sink into the grass and soil as it decomposes, so that you get a built-in lawn treatment from the many nutrients the leaves can offer. There is even some evidence that certain types of leaves can hinder weed growth, as an added bonus. Keep in mind, however, that mulching is only successful when you have a light layer of leaves, so you’ll likely need to do this frequently to avoid letting the leaf coverage become too thick. If you prefer not to mulch but want to avoid raking as well, other options include using a leaf blower or a bagging attachment for your mower.

How do I dispose of leaves from my lawn?

In many neighborhoods, your garbage pickup service may offer leaf removal. However, this often means they will end up in a landfill, which you’ll want to avoid if possible. Using the leaves as mulch or compost, or chopping them up and adding them to soil for the bases of your trees and shrubs will allow you to keep the leaves out of a landfill and will also benefit your lawn with their nutrients. If you do use a garbage pickup service which does not recycle leaves, try to place them in biodegradable bags rather than plastic ones.

Are there any downsides to raking my lawn?

Most homeowners want to avoid raking leaves because it can be difficult and time-consuming manual labor. However, raking may actually cause damage to your lawn as well, especially if you’re working aggressively or if your grass’ root system is weak. Damage is particularly common when raking wet leaves, so if you do rake your lawn, be sure to do so when the leaves are dry and light.

Leaf disposal may seem like just another tedious task for maintaining your home and lawn, but depending on how it’s done, it can offer tremendous benefits: a clear, clean-looking lawn throughout the fall and winter, and a healthier, stronger lawn by spring. If you’re ready to discuss how we can help you prepare and improve your lawn this fall, schedule a consultation with Turf Shield lawn care.

Autumn is Fire Ant Prevention Season

Autumn is Fire Ant Prevention SeasonFire ants are the worst. Their bites are painful (and potentially dangerous for your kids and pets) and their very existence can create issues for your lawn. Ants dig tunnels under your lawn that can damage the roots of your grass and leave patches of unsavory dead lawn. Ant hills can also be a problem. They can damage mower blades and cause your lawn to be mowed at an uneven height, not to mention they are pretty unpleasant to look at. Controlling a potential fire ant problem during the fall season can pay major dividends when the following spring rolls around.

Autumn is the perfect time to try to rid your lawn of these pesky pests. Unlike some other insects, fire ants are most active when the weather begins to cool down. During the extreme temperatures of summer or winter, fire ants dig deeper to avoid hot or cold weather. However, when the temperatures are less severe the ants colonize closer to the surface. This allows for more effective treatment when using fire ant killers like a dust or a contact kill aerosol spray that require direct contact to kill the ants.

Fire ants use fall as their time to roam around searching for food, making this the perfect time to effectively use bait traps for fire ant control. Fire ant bait can be used year-round, but fire ants that are actively searching for food in preparation for winter hibernation are particularly easy targets. The ants that take the bait will bring it back to their nest and attack the ant colony from within. Bait traps are far less effective during the summer and winter, when the fire ants are less active and less likely to fall into the trap.

Lastly, perhaps the main factor that makes fall the single best time to treat fire ants is the fact that it is followed by winter. Cold weather can be devastating to fire ant colonies. Your bait may take a few weeks to work, but once it enters the colonies, it weakens them and makes them less able to respond to the challenges of cold winter weather. Young colonies are especially vulnerable since they don’t have many worker ants, making it difficult for them to escape the harsh conditions quickly.

Taking action this fall can save you the headache of dealing with a fire ant infestation when next spring arrives. Fire ant infestations may not be completely preventable, but attentiveness and proper lawn care can go a long way towards treating your ants before they become a problem. For more information on fire ant control and how we can help, contact Turf Shield today. We’ll be happy to answer all your questions and set you on the path to a healthy, ant-free lawn.

Essential Fall Lawn Care Tips

Essential Fall Lawn Care TipsThe seasons are changing and autumn is nearly upon us. With summer all but gone and the end of the year rapidly approaching you’re probably not spending much time thinking about your lawn. However, fall is the perfect time to think about your lawn and prepare it for next year due to the mild conditions.

Fall is the time of year when your grass is absorbing energy, moisture and nutrients in preparation for a long, cold winter. Taking a few simple precautions now can pay off big time when next spring comes along in order for your lawn to look lush and green. We’ve provided some tips below on the lawn treatments and services that can help you maintain a healthy lawn through the fall and into the blustery winter months:

Mowing

The first step to preserving your lawn through the fall is to keep on mowing as if it was the spring. We also recommend lowering the height of your mower. Cutting your lawn slightly shorter in autumn can help prevent grass from matting down under the falling leaves. Lastly, consider using a mower with mulch features to spray grass clippings onto your yard. This can add nitrogen to the lawn.

Aerating

We’ve already schooled you on the importance of aeration year-round and the fall is no exception. Aeration will allow oxygen, water, and fertilizer to reach the roots of your grass and be stored through the winter.

Fertilizing

Fertilizing your lawn in the fall, the time when your grass devotes most of its energy towards its roots, is definitely recommended. Grass itself grows much more slowly as the seasons change, but the grass roots continue to grow at their normal rate. Fertilizing in the fall can help deliver essential nutrients for the grass to grow deep roots now and to keep nutrients on reserve for a healthy start next spring.

Controlling Weeds

Weeds can grow out of control in the fall if you’re not paying attention. Weeds within your grass use the fall as a time to absorb energy and nutrients. They’re drinking in everything that comes their way, which makes them vulnerable to herbicide weed killers. Applying an herbicide now can rid your lawn of weeds through the fall and keep them away as spring rolls back around.

If you don’t feel comfortable aerating, fertilizing or maintaining your lawn, you should consider hiring a lawn care service provider. As always, you can contact the pros at Turf Shield with all of your lawn care needs. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter & Google+ for additional tips, stories & developments in the world of lawn maintenance.