Understanding the Various Uses for Shrubbery

Understanding the Various Uses for ShrubberyThere are a lot of different factors that go into caring for and maintaining a pleasing outdoor landscape, and at Turf Shield we deal with them all.  From the fertilization and aeration required to maintain a beautiful lawn to insect control and plant maintenance, our trained and experienced technicians are dedicated to providing the best lawn care solutions in Metro Atlanta.  One area of landscaping that is often overlooked is the importance of small plants and shrubbery.  Although a healthy and beautiful lawn is the foundation of an enjoyable yard, by itself it is simply flat, featureless, and plain.  Shrubs not only highlight your landscape, but also provide a number of vital advantages.

Concealment and Privacy

In many older homes, the base around the foundation can sometimes appear unfinished or unkempt.  Many homeowners use shrubs to conceal this unsightly area, particularly in houses where the façade does not cover the lower portions of the house.  When used as “foundation plants,” shrubs can break up the stark right angle junction of house and ground and visually link the house to the surrounding landscape.  Moreover, adjacent houses, sections of landscapes, or private portions of a home landscape can easily be separated or enclosed by a shrub border, or hedge.  Less expensive than a fence and more easily maintained than a line of trees, a hedge offers an attractive way to keep your yard private.  Pruning and maintenance of hedge shrubs is just one of the many landscaping services that our Turf Shield professionals can provide.

Aesthetic Accenting

When placed around a sign, boulder, or sculpture, or in such a way as to flank either side of a doorway or path, shrubs make excellent “accent plants” that frame or add emphasis to a specific landscape feature.  Shrubs that are particularly striking, such as crape myrtle, rhododendron, or dwarf conifers, can even serve as “specimen plants” that claim a central focal point in a yard or garden, often as an alternative to a more dominating tree.  Smaller, low-growing shrubs can even be used to cover large portions of planting beds, adding texture and reducing the amount of grass that needs to be mowed.

Preserving Your Topsoil

The constantly changing Georgia weather can make top soil erosion an ever-present concern.  Long periods of drought leech beneficial microorganisms and other important nutrients from the uppermost two to six inches of soil, leaving those layers vulnerable to washing away in the next violent downpour.  Shrubs develop strong root systems that cover large areas, holding the soil in place and preventing it from running off into lakes, streams, or sewer drains.  Seasonal aeration can help preserve the health of your top soil, but a border of shrubbery around your lawn can act as a natural barrier that prevents soil run-off and keeps your grass where you want it.

If you have any questions about any of your landscaping needs, 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 Facebook  or Twitter to get all the latest updates and lawn care tips.

Fall Overseeding: What Do I Need to Know?

fall-overseeding-what-do-i-need-to-knowSummer is slowly drawing to a close and for those of us in the lawn care biz that means one thing: time for overseeding.  A long hot summer of drought, diseases, lawn-damaging insects, and constant foot traffic can often leave a lawn looking brown and battered, barely clinging to life.  Overseeding can give your lawn the resources it needs to rejuvenate itself over the cold winter months so that it can burst back into lush abundance next spring.  Although it may seem simple, overseeding effectively does actually require a fair bit of science and expertise, which is why it is one of the many lawn care services offered by the specialists at Turf Shield.  Here are a few valuable insights into this often overlooked but extremely important step in lawn maintenance.

At the most basic level, overseeding, or reseeding as it is sometimes called, involves spreading grass seed over already existing turf, particularly in larger areas where the turf has begun to grow thin.  Overseeding is usually considered when the lawn has developed bare spots, areas that are thinning or patchy, or if it has suffered damage from drought, diseases or insects, but it is not necessarily suitable for all types of grass at the same times of the year.  Cool season grasses, like Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrasses, and fescues, tend to grow best when the air temperature is between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and so overseeding in the late summer or early fall gives the seeds time to germinate and gives the resulting seedlings time to mature to the point where they can survive before the winter cold sets in.

In order to maximize effectiveness and achieve the best possible results, fall overseeding should be combined with lawn aeration.  Soil that has become compacted by heavy foot traffic and general wear can prevent air, water and nutrients from reaching the roots of new grass seedlings.  Core aeration, which extracts small plugs of soil from the ground, not only gives roots better access to these vital resources, but also provides better seed-to-soil contact, greatly aiding in germination and the growth of new seedlings.

Overseeding can thicken lawns and make them more attractive, but the process requires know-how, specialized lawn care equipment, and professional lawn care follow-through to achieve the best possible results.  If you have any 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 Facebook  or Twitter to get all the latest updates and lawn care tips.

Getting Down to the Root: The Importance of Aeration

Getting Down to the Root The Importance of AerationLawn care can actually be much more complicated than people think.  While most know that regular mowing and watering is important, and many even understand the necessity for periodic fertilization, fewer take the time to learn about the more specialized lawn maintenance practices that make the basic essentials work more efficiently and effectively.  One of these is aeration, a vital lawn treatment that helps ensure nutrients and water can reach the soil beneath the grass where they can do the most good.  Aeration is just one of the many valuable lawn care services that the dedicated team at Turf Shield, Inc. can provide.

Over time, foot traffic and general wear can cause the soil underneath your grass to become overly compacted, which prevents the proper circulation of air, water and nutrients.  Moreover, excessive lawn thatch, the heavy organic debris on the soil surface, can also starve the roots from these essential elements.  Aeration lawn treatments basically involve using one of several different mechanical devices to perforate the soil with small holes, allowing the air, water and nutrients to penetrate the grass roots. Ultimately, this helps the roots grow deeply and helps produce a stronger, more vigorous lawn.

It can be difficult to tell, just from a cursory examination, whether your lawn is in need of aeration.  Lawns that receive heavy traffic from children and pets regularly running around the yard or the lawns of newly constructed homes that may have been compacted under heavy construction equipment are often the best candidates.  In addition, if your lawn dries out easily or has a spongy feel it might mean that it has an excessive thatch problem and could perhaps benefit from aeration.  The Turf Shield team has more than 40 years of experience providing specialized lawn treatment packages in the southeast, and can determine exactly what your lawn needs.

There are two different tools that can be used to aerate a lawn: a spike aerator, which simply pokes holes into the ground with a solid tine, or fork, and a plug aerator that actually removes a core or plug of grass and soil from the lawn.  While the former is quicker and less labor intensive, the latter can often be more effective, particularly when dealing with extremely compact soil and heavy thatch.  Aeration is best performed during growing season, when your grass has the opportunity to heal and fill in any open areas after soil plugs are removed, so the timing will depend on the specific type of grass you have. Ideally, aerate a lawn with cool season grass in the early spring or fall and a lawn with warm season grass in the late spring.

There is a lot more to taking care of a lawn than just mowing and watering, and having a team of experienced professionals on your side can often make all the difference.  If you have any questions about your lawn, when you should aerate, or about 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.

Caring for Your Lawn in the Summer Heat

Caring for Your Lawn in the Summer HeatWe all know that the growth and appearance of a lawn, or of any other outdoor plant for that matter, is heavily influenced by environmental factors, like light, weather, and soil composition.  In this part of the country, the effects of soaring temperatures and high humidity can team up to cause some fairly severe damage.  Additionally, since we all want our lawns to look their best during the summer, many try to fight nature by continuing to fertilize, water, and coax new growth out of lawns no matter what the weather. However, by understanding and respecting the seasonal changes of turf grasses, you can take steps to care gently for your lawn even in the scorching Georgia heat.

Once temperatures start to rise above the 80 degree mark, lawns can begin to struggle, with new seedlings and cool-season grasses having the hardest time. Growth will slow, the grass color may fade, and lawns will be less able to recover from stress and traffic. Some cool-season lawns will even go dormant in the summer, looking brown and brittle until early fall.  Many believe that the best way to relieve that stress is by applying water, but that is only true to a point.  While lawns do need more water when the heat is severe, water-logged soils can prevent oxygen from reaching the grass’s roots.  If the roots can’t breathe, they cannot absorb nutrients and water and they may die.  Smart summer watering means making sure that your yard provides adequate drainage, avoid over-watering, and above all don’t try to “water your grass back to life,” especially if it goes dormant.  For certain species of grass, a dormant period is completely natural and they will recover once the weather changes.

Warm-season fungal diseases, like powdery mildew and brownpatch (Rhizoctonia), can become very active when night-time temperatures rise above 65 degrees and the humidity levels are high.  While mature lawns can usually weather such attacks, younger seedlings can be killed off, which is why planting new grass during the summer months is seldom a good idea.  Dormant or drought-stressed summer lawns can also become more susceptible to lawn insect infestations by pests like chinch bugs, cutworms, armyworms, sod webworms, fire ants, fleas, and mosquitoes. Minor infestations often take care of themselves, but severe problems may require professional attention.

Finally, during the summer months, intense lawn maintenance may actually do more harm than good.  Resist the urge to apply extra fertilizer to cool-season fescue turf, as this can actually increase the severity of fungal diseases and may even burn your lawn or create a flush of tender growth that will struggle in the hot weather.  Although Bermuda and zoysia grasses may need some fertilizer in the summer, never try to fertilize cooler weather turf types that go dormant in the heat.  Instead wait until they green up in the fall.  Keeping moisture levels steady is important during dry spells.  Since taller grass tends to be more drought-tolerant and to grow deeper roots, raising your mower blade to the highest level, or even mowing less frequently, and mulching, rather than bagging, your grass clippings will give your grass an edge in beating the heat.

Taking care of a lawn can be complicated, and having a team of experienced professionals on your side can often make all the difference.  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.

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.