Preparing for the Spring Growing Season

Preparing for the Spring Growing SeasonWith the winter behind us and spring fast-approaching, all of us here at Turf Shield are looking forward to getting back outside and enjoying the famous Atlanta greenery.  Unfortunately, the sudden, heavy rains and fluctuating temperatures that characterize the Georgia winters can be extremely hard on lawns and gardens, so it is often necessary to take steps, even before the spring growing season begins, to get your outdoor area back into shape.  Here are some steps that you can take in late winter and early spring to help ensure that your lawn or garden looks its best.

Rake Your Lawn

In most parts of the country, grass is dormant during the winter months, but is ready to spring back to life in the spring.  However, the weeds and dead plant matter that accumulate over the winter months can often get in the way.  Start off the spring season by getting rid of the weeds and raking your lawn thoroughly to remove the winter debris.  This allows light and air to reach the level of the soil, which encourages the grass to grow.

Revitalize the Soil

Your soil is likely to be dried out and compacted after a long winter.  Spring is an excellent time to add organic material, like compost or manure, to replace moisture and valuable nutrients and to aerate the soil to improve its consistency.  In particular, pay special attention to plant beds and areas where you want to encourage new growth.

Move Your Shrubs

Over the course of the year you may come to think that a particular hedge or bit of shrubbery would be more useful or attractive in a different spot.  Now is the time to make that move.  The early spring is more favorable to transplants because the soil is more consistently moist, which helps new rooting to expand from the transplant zone and reach out for more nutrients.

Re-Seed Bare Patches

Spring is also the time to re-seed areas of the lawn that have been worn bare by foot traffic.  First, rake the bare spots firmly with a metal rake and then sprinkle them evenly with new grass seed.  Don’t forget to keep the areas well-watered until the seeds germinate and the new grass is firmly established.

Prune Your Foliage

Larger plants that have survived the winter, like trees and shrubs, may require pruning so that they will continue to grow in the coming months.  Ornamental blooming plants should be pruned right after they bloom to avoid cutting off future flowers, while fruit trees should be pruned well before their buds begin to bloom to avoid overstressing the tree and reducing the crop.

Plant New Flowers

Once you’ve handled all of the old plants, it’s time to turn your attention to new ones.  Spring is an ideal time to plant daffodils, lilies, crocus, hyacinth and any other bulbs as well as new vegetables like kale, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower.  Remember that new bulbs often need to be protected from sudden, unexpected frost and disease with a one to three inch layer of mulch as well.

Putting in a little bit of effort to prepare your lawn or garden for the coming spring can provide big payoffs down the line.  Our lawn care specialists can work with you to determine exactly what measures you should take to keep your yard looking its best.  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.

Can Too Much Rain Hurt Your Lawn?

Can Too Much Rain Hurt Your LawnHere in Georgia, we often have to take special steps to deal with the effects of drought on our lawns and gardens.  However, if there’s anything that can be said for the weather in the south, it’s that it can be unpredictable.  Warm, humid air can churn up violent thunderstorms at a moment’s notice, drowning your lawn under a flood of rain water.  Unfortunately, since this is a relatively infrequent occurrence, many lawns are not equipped to drain this sudden excess water properly, and so puddles of standing water are left behind.  The experienced lawn care specialists at Turf Shield have more than forty years of combined experience caring for lawns and gardens throughout Georgia, and can offer some useful insights into how best to protect your lawn from too much water.

Heavy rains, particularly when they persist over an extended period, can place stresses on your grass and plants, especially if those plants are native to drier climates, as is generally the case with the warm season grasses we use here in the south.  Although soil may seem solid, it is actually riddled with tiny spaces in between the particles.  These spaces hold air and water that can then be easily absorbed by root systems.  Heavy rains, however, can fill these spaces with water, effectively depriving the roots of the oxygen they need.  If these conditions continue long enough, the roots stop functioning properly and may even begin to die. At this point, even though the soil may be filled with water, the roots will no longer absorb it and the plants will begin to wilt.  These damaged root systems are also more vulnerable to attack by fungal organisms in the soil that cause root rot, which can be highly damaging and potentially even fatal.

So what can you do if your lawn has been flooded by rain?  Fortunately, the effects of heavy rain in the later winter months are often less damaging than those in the late summer.  Plants are in active growth in late summer, and the warm soils encourage the activity of root rot fungal organisms in the soil, but in the late winter most plants are still dormant, which makes them better able to endure saturated soil.  Still, the best way to avoid water damage is to plan your yard so that it never happens in the first place.  When landscaping your yard, make drainage a chief concern.  Whether you are planting shrubs, bedding plants, perennials, vegetables, or ground covers, make sure that the beds you prepare for them are about 6 to 12 inches higher than the surrounding soil.  Although raised beds do drain faster and so potentially will need to be watered more often than ground-level beds, they are your best defense against sudden, torrential rains.  Look over your property while it is raining to observe exactly where the water is flowing and then use that information to plan out what sort of plants will go where.  Finally, you can also help prevent your soil from becoming impacted by performing regular lawn aeration treatments.  This will allow more air, water, and nutrients to penetrate the grass roots, producing a stronger, more vigorous lawn.

If you have any questions about any of your landscaping needs, or specifically about how best to plan your lawn or garden layout and maintenance, 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.

Protecting Your Yard from the Winter Cold

Protecting Your Yard from the Winter ColdCompared to other places around the country, we don’t have to deal with particularly harsh winters down here in the south.  Nevertheless, more than a few times over the past several years, sudden and severe drops in temperature have caught our Georgia lawn care service customers by surprise, causing significant damage to grass, trees, and shrubs.  Although most plants do protect themselves by going dormant during the darker winter months, there are also a few simple things that you can do to make sure they stay as healthy as possible and emerge from the cold weather looking their best.

Wrap Up Your Trees

Winter temperatures in the south can vary a great deal, going from relatively warm one day to freezing the next.  As difficult as this can be for humans, it can be potentially devastating to trees and plants.  Cold temperatures cause growing wood to go dormant in order to protect itself, but significant sun exposure can prematurely end that dormancy, exposing the tree to severe damage when temperatures fall once more.  Caring for your trees should include wrapping the bark in cling wrap or burlap fabric to better regulate their temperature during the winter months.

Rake Your Leaves

It might seem like wasted effort to rake up fallen leaves when your grass has already turned brown, but it is actually much more important than most people may realize.  Leaf cover during the winter keeps sunlight off your lawn, which, in combination with the colder temperatures, encourages moss and lichens to grow.  Fallen leaves can also trap heat and moisture underneath snow, leading to a fungal lawn disease known as “Snow Mold.”  Keeping your yard leaf-free, even if your lawn has turned brown and dormant, will keep it drier and healthier.

Avoid Excessive Foot Traffic

If you want to see a fresh, green, healthy-looking lawn in the spring, don’t allow anyone to walk on the grass when it is covered with heavy frost or ice.  Even if the grass is brown and short, walking on frozen blades will cause them to crack and shatter.  Keep your sidewalks cleared of ice and snow so that you and your guests won’t be tempted to cut across the yard and never allow anyone to park a truck or a car on your lawn.  Even the smallest vehicle will leave impressions in the soil and kill off the grass that is underneath the tires.

Just because your yard hibernates during the winter doesn’t mean that your lawn care regimen can take a vacation.  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.

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.