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Gardening

14 Ways of Lawn Mowing In the Least Possible Time

It is the desire of every person having a lawn or a yard to keep their lawn healthy, clean and disease free. In order to keep the lawn in good condition one must water, mow, fertilize, aerate and detach the lawn properly. Proper mowing helps to keep the lawn fresh and lively.

Mowing frequency determines how attractive and stupendous the lawn looks. So to keep a beautiful lawn one must also know the tactics and effective ways of lawn mowing. The best way to keep your lawn in an even and systematic way is to use a lawn mower in an effective manner.

But some people say that lawn mowing is a tedious work that takes a lot of time to mow correctly. However, we beg to differ! Here are some of the fastest and easiest ways of mowing a lawn are mentioned as follows:

  1. Knowing the equipment – Before mowing a lawn, you have to know the equipment like mowers, “edgers”, trimmers properly. You must go through the manual that comes along with the mower and other equipment. After knowing everything in details, you can use the equipment on the lawn.
  2. Knowing how to use a mower – It is vital to know how to use a mower. Banging the mower repeatedly against tree trunks can damage and restrict the growth of new trees.
  3. Setting the mower at the highest preferred setting according to the grass type – It is very important to set the mower in accordance with the height of the grass. Properly mowed grass develops good roots and tends to become livelier and healthier. Setting the mower at the highest setting preferring the grass is really useful.
  4. Using sharp blades for the mower – It is required to keep the blades of the mower sharp and honed. Blunt blades can cause the grasses to tear up. Sometimes the grasses turn grey if sharp blades are not used.
  5. Maintaining a definite height for the grasses – Cutting grass too short results in more weeds, fewer roots, reduced vigor and many other problems. A definite height must be maintained. The lawn must be mowed in the range between 2 to 4 inches.
  6. Leaving clippings on the grass – The technique of clipping the grasses until they form rows is called grass cycling. It helps to return nutrients and nitrogen to the lawn which definitely makes the grasses healthy.
  7. Mowing a dry lawn and varying the mowing pattern – If the lawn is mowed when wet, there is a chance for the mower to clog due to wet clippings. Brown spots can appear and the grasses will smother. So mowing a dry lawn is surely a wiser decision.

It is also important to change the mowing patterns to make the grass stand nice and tall.

  1. Mowing the lawn regularly as per requirement – You have to keep in mind that a lawn should be mowed as per needs and requirements. If the lawn is not mowed frequently it will not take long to transform into a prairie. During the spring season, the lawn may require 2 days mowing each week. In summer, one can mow every other week.
  2. Ensuring that the edges are well trimmed – You need to check whether the grasses are well trimmed or not. If the edges are not trimmed properly the lawn will never look smooth and fine. If the edges are snipped first the mower will be able to pick up the mess created by the sniper making it look professional.
  3. Mowing the lawn in the forward direction – While mowing you must keep in mind that the mower is moved or directed towards the forward direction. That gives a clean and good looking lawn.
  4. Overlapping and checking for missed spots – If the mowed portion of the lawn is overlapped then there remains less chance of missing any areas needed to be mowed and the lawn is undoubtedly mowed perfectly. After mowing you must check whether you have missed any spots or not.
  5. Practicing good lawn mowing – It is certainly one of the truest things that practice makes a man perfect. In case of effective lawn mowing this concept is vital. If you tend to mow the lawn frequently with care and newer techniques, you are predicting to mow better than the others who practice less. It may seem difficult at first, but will slowly turn to be one of the easiest works. The finishing will be awesome and it will save enough time too.
  6. Striping the lawn – This technique of striping makes the lawn to look professionally manicured. The lawn looks different with a cool design and pattern mostly like baseball fields or football fields.
  7. Hiring a professional gardener – If possible, a professional gardener with enough instruments and equipment can be hired who will have appropriate mowing skills and perhaps a recognized qualification.

A nicely mowed lawn increases the beauty of a house. So it is a must to keep the lawn green, clean and disease free. Some techniques and skills can do the trick. And certainly, the above listed 14 methods, no matter how basic they may seem to be, are some of the easiest and fastest way to do your mowing. We would recommend that you apply those and you get to keep your lawn fresh, lively, elegant and beautiful – all in the fastest possible time!

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Gardening

Introducing different lawn striping and patterns (part 2)

So here we are again for the second installment in the series on introducing different lawn striping and patterns! In case you missed out on the earlier article, here is a brief intro to lawn striping and patterns for you.

Lawn striping is a technique that leaves your yard fully manicured. Striping methods may easily be used to create different designs and patterns that would give your lawn dramatic effects. Simple checkerboard and diamond patterns can bring a unique look for your lawn.

The previous article pointed out the various methods or ways of lawn striping and those included techniques like planning grass patterns, creating simple designs, mowing each line once, intensifying the lawn stripes, etc. These are all effective methods of lawn striping. Other than these some more techniques can be followed.

Toro Lawn Striping System

Choosing lawn mowers and striping kits

While striping you must choose the perfect lawn mower and kits to give your yard a perfect look. The reel mowers which are used to stripe the golf courses or baseball fields can cut the cleanest and provide the best stripes. If you don’t have a mower and you are willing to buy one you should consider the mower with floating deck and a single roller.

Mowing using the straight lines

Mowing using a straight line is the most efficient way to good striping. It had been mentioned in the previous article to mow each line once. To do that it is necessary to mow the lawn in straight lines so that if any of the lines are crooked, they can be straightened by mowing again. This will turn out to be easier if you always keep the lines straight.

Designing a diagonal or crisscross pattern

To construct these sorts of patterns, just simply apply the stripes in a diagonal direction. Though the beautiful mowing patterns and designs give an aesthetic appeal to your yard, it’s still important to keep the mowing tips in mind to get the desirable outcome. To fabricate a diagonal or crisscross design you need to:

  • Keep the height of a grass at a moderate length. If you cut the grass too short you will not get the desired outcome since the grass blade will not blend over them reflecting less light. But if the grass is a bit long then the striping pattern will bring a noticeable difference.
  • When you are mowing your lawn, do it in alternate patterns. Varying the mowing patterns every two to three weeks can maintain a healthy growth.

Designing regular and plaid stripes

To create a regular pattern or plaid stripe begin by mowing along the perimeter of the lawn. Go over the perimeter to cover up any offsets. Take a Y- turn to avoid turf damage. Mow back and forth in straight lines and in the opposite direction covering the entire lawn. Finish by going over the entire lawn once again.

Using the High-lift mowing blades

The High-lift mowing blades can be a godsend in the matter of rotary mowers. They tend to create a vacuum or void effect which makes grass blades stand upright and get a better cut and afterwards the rollers shall lay the same grass down ending up producing nice stripes. Frequent cuttings or double cuttings can intensify the stripes.

And there is one more important thing that you just cannot afford to forget! Yeah, it may seem a bit obvious, but quite a lot of people tend to forget to do this obvious thing. Remember to check the blades if they have the desired level of sharpness on them!

Dealing with grass clumps

Clumping is more likely to occur when the grasses are wet. When you absolutely need to mow when the grasses are wet or too long, clumping occurs. You should never leave clumps of grass clipping on the turf. Disperse the clumps with a rake or blower.

If the lawn is left with too many clamps, the grass can suffocate and turn yellow. That definitely will not give the lawn its best look. To avoid clumping you can raise the height of grass; avoid over- fertilizing, mow in the afternoon when the grass is dry, etc.

Striping and avoiding trees and obstacles

What will happen if you are mowing and suddenly you come across an obstacle like trees? Well you need to be careful in these cases and need to follow a few tips. So what are those?

  • Number one: Remember to mow around the object or the tree into the uncut path.
  • Number two: When you are making your next pass, you need to mow over the turn marks. That will retain your even stripe pattern.

Using additional striping tips

The additional striping tips can be as important as the other techniques. If you tend to create a vivid pattern, you should mow high. Mowing at the highest setting can soften the grass that bends over easily. Never forget to feed your lawn every 6-8 weeks with “lawn food”. A lawn that is fed 2-3 times a year end up giving a lush look.

So if you want to keep your lawn fresh, clean, consistent and uniform you must follow certain techniques mentioned here and also in the previous article. Other than these you can keep your lawn good looking with dramatic patterns with practice and a little creativity. Seeing your lawn achieve a carpet lush look, your neighbors are surely going to stand in awe. So apply different short techniques and make your lawn consistent, uniform and lush looking.

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Gardening

Introducing different lawn striping and patterns (part 1)

Lawn striping is one of the best ways of making your lawn look better and beautiful. Your lawn can now be the “envy of the neighborhood” if you can create eye – catching grass patterns. Tractors and mowers can create a beautiful lawn with perfect stripes and patterns.

baseball-field-for-the-season

Now the question is “how does it work?” there are some ways in which lawn striping works and what more can be done to increase this effect. The light and dark stripes that are seen in lawns or yards are caused when the sunlight reflects on the grasses. Those stripes that will be closer or forward to you are going to appear darker than those which will be away from you. For that you will need full-width rollers to support the weight of the mower.

So, in this article, which is the first of the series of the articles that will focus on different lawn mowing patterns and how to do striping in the most finest of ways. There will be more in the series, like mentioned earlier which will describe other striping and patterns for your lawn, but that is for a later time. Here we go!

Planning the grass pattern first

Before starting to work on the lawn, you can plan your patterns on a piece of paper so that while creating the designs you find it easier to execute. It is just a preliminary step and not that it will work exactly the way you want. But this will help you to create patterns in a better way.

Creating simple patterns and designs

The ultimate goal of striping the lawn is to make it look more beautiful and neat. Simple designs and patterns are easier than complex ones and it is better to go for simple ones first. You can first mow a straight line and keep it as a guide for the rest of the stripes. There are chances that one or more of the lines are crooked. But that can be solved easily. You just need to go back two lines before and start over.

Intensifying the lawn stripes

Bending the grass farther can intensify the lawn stripes. You need to bring the roller in contact with the grasses and press it to the ground. Well, this way is better than the other methods that just take the roller across the tips of the grass.  You need to keep the height or length of the grasses in mind because if you cut the grasses too short the stripes will lessen and as it would reflect less sunlight the stripes will be less vivid.

Mowing each line once

Mowing the lawn too much can create a stress on the lawn. You can just disengage the mower and go back to the stripe to etch the patterns so that the lawn gets a smooth finishing.

Watching at the time of mowing

While you are mowing you must watch where you are mowing. Mow parallel to the sidewalk or driveway. In order to keep the mowing straight you should keep the mower 10ft in front of you not the ground in front of the mower. In fact, to make a good smooth lawn you need to watch over.

Selecting the basic line patterns

You should begin to mow by the perimeter of the lawn. The remaining property has to be mowed in the opposing direction. Now if you leave a “Y” turn at the end of each row, then there is less chance of damage while setting the mower to mow the other rows. Again if you mow over any type of pattern irregularities will vanish and the lawn will take a clean look.

Spraying some water

One of the tips to enhance the grass patterns is spraying a light mist of water on the grasses. The light will reflect the pattern and they will add contrast to the light and dark sections. This is actually prior showing it off to guests.

Keeping the mower blades sharp

You must always care to keep the mower blades sharp. If you use dull blades there is a possibility that the grasses are torn and this will put a stress on the lawn. Sharp blades will give a clean cut and make the lawn look smoother. Cutting more than 1/3 of the grass blade is not allowed. When the grass is under heat stress you should mow less.

Considering the grass type

As far as the lawn patterns are concerned, considering the grass type is one of the wisest thing to do. The perfect patterns depend on the types of grass. Certain types of grass will bend more easily and will produce a better striped pattern. There are some types of grass usually found in the southern regions of the USA which are difficult to handle because they are more rigid and hard to bend.

Selecting certain times of the day

There are times when the stripes will show up better since the angle of the sun would tend to make them invisible. You must consider the sunlight and also the viewing points of the lawn while mowing.

Lastly the most important thing is to mow your lawn with care and fun. Many people who are involved in this profession consider perfect lawn mowing to be a sign of quality. So work on your lawn with love and you are bound to get something good in return!

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Gardening

Lawn mowing in different seasons

A beautiful lawn increases the beauty of the house no doubt about that. On the other hand, a neglected lawn would decrease the elegance of a house. Whenever we think of taking care of the lawn, we search for steps required to mow the lawn perfectly, we find ways to trim the edges, we look for various equipment and mowers for lawn-mowing, etc.

These are undoubtedly the most important and vital steps but besides these we need to know one more important thing. That is the “perfect time for lawn mowing”. The nourishment of the lawn varies from season to season. Let us see how you will take care of your lawn in various seasons throughout the year.

Summer

The first thing that comes to our mind when we hear ‘summer’ is ‘hot’. The scorching heat of the sun can put your lawn at serious risk. The three most important things you must do to protect your lawn from the excess heat of the sun are:

  1. Adequate watering
    • Watering the lawn properly throughout the year is of course needed. But watering becomes much more important during this season. Dry weather creates a scarcity of water or even a drought. So naturally your lawn gets dry too. Externally, you must provide adequate amount of water to your lawn especially during summer.
    • Conservation becomes vital here. Well, there are some easy techniques of watering your lawn. You can use various types of water sprinklers like portable sprinklers, stationary, rotary, oscillating, impact, etc. You can keep a fountain or any sorts of decorative water features near your lawn.
  2. Proper mowing and pest controlling – Again, we would like to remind you that no matter what other things you require, you need to mow your lawn properly without negligence. Mowing and trimming has to be perfect.

Another thing is pest control. You should inspect your yard regularly and check the colors of the grass. Check whether any pests have created damage to the yard.

  1. Fertilizing – Your lawn needs proper fertilization during the summer season. Enough fertilization will definitely give your lawn a natural bright look though you must fertilize throughout the year.

Autumn

Fall or autumn reminds us all that winter is on its way. That means the fall of temperature and the shortening of days. Your lawn needs a different type of care in this season.

Fertilization is not something that is entirely new. It is equally important in every season. But why should you fertilize during autumn? The answer is simply ‘for the winter’. Why so? If you fertilize in autumn you would be able to provide a natural nutrient boost to the lawn and that can be stored and utilized during the dormancy period. Throughout the winter the roots will utilize the stored nutrients and keep growing and this would continue till spring.

Another thing that happens during autumn is the fall of leaves. Clean your lawn once a week. Aeration is effective in this part of the year. Autumn is a good season for controlling pests and grubs. Try to keep some evergreens, which can dry up during the winter, lively and filled with moisture. This is called winterizing.

Winter

Okay, we know its cold outside, but do not avoid your lawn. Your lawn needs great care now. The temperature begins to drop and reach at the lowest level. Prune your trees in this season. Pruning will lead to the growth of new roots and fruits. One of the threats of winter is snow. When the winter will start to wind down and snow will vanish, the snow mold will threaten your yard.

As this fungus prefers the cold and chilly weather, you must fertilize and maintain your yard throughout the entire winter season. The use of special fungicides and good seedling strategies can help. You can use anti- desiccant which is a kind of foliage spray that moistens trees in cold weather. Enrich and enhance the health of your soil by adding organic supplements. Facilitate growth by yard fertilizers. Reseeding helps to thicken the thin areas of your lawn.

Spring

Many prefer summer, but Spring is also quite a fascinating season, isn’t it? Yes, it is but you have the greatest amount of work now. After winter, your lawn needs greater care. First check- did your lawn develop any sorts of diseases like dead patches while facing the extremities during the winter season? Deal with problems like these and rejuvenate your yard. Things you must do during spring:

  1. Fertilizing – One of the most common things is fertilization. You have fertilized your lawn during the fall, but in order to make your grass thick and lush, fertilize again. Use a definite amount of fertilizer.
  2. Mowing – Another common term is mowing. There can be no alternative to perfect mowing. Best time to start the mower again is spring.
  3. Preventing weeds – Prevent weeds by landscaping. Perfect time to deal with crabgrass and pre-emergent is spring.
  4. Measuring the pH level of soil – Figure out which compounds can help your yard to flourish. Correct pH level of soil can help you to keep your lawn fresh and healthy for a longer time.

Mow your lawn considering the weather, seasons and climates. Your hard work of mowing and fertilizing your lawn will surely pay off if you can do these stuffs in the right time.

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Gardening

How to get grass to grow in clay soil

Grass is known to be quite hardy components in a garden to grow in most soil types. However, hard clay soil could prove to be a challenge for grass which is the reason homeowners and gardeners are frustrated when it is difficult to turn a plot of clay soil into beautiful greens.

Most homeowners want a green turf as grass is soft and ideal to cover the ground for aesthetic and functionality. It should be soft enough to sit on or walk barefooted yet strong enough to handle heavy traffic. But soft lush greens do not grow well in soil mixed with a high percentage of clay. But there are ways to overcome a hard patch of clay soil to become conducive for a grassy yard.

Clay soil

Clay Properties

Clay soil possesses several good qualities although it may seem an unfavorable candidate for grass. Clay has extraordinary moisture retention besides better levels of nutrient content compared to other types of soil.

It does take more effort in breaking up hardened clay to prepare it for laying sod. A simple solution would be to add in organic matter to make the clay more permeable with better drainage to encourage a lush, green lawn. In order to secure workable clay soil, the gardener must be prepared for a long term process to ensure the best ground conditions for a great lawn as the outcome.

Gardeners need to prepare early by prepping the clay; that is, about a year before putting on the sod. Good cultural practices must be exercised to get the clay soil in the right condition. This includes adding organic matter twice a year to maintain the right conditions for green turf growth.

Step 1 – Test pH of soil

The prepping process of clay soil is to test its pH value. Most grasses grow best in slightly acidic soil; that is a pH value between 6 and 7. Soil with pH below 6 is too acidic for good growth; lime must be added to raise the pH value before grass could be planted. The scientific name for lime is calcium carbonate which could be found as ground limestone, pelletized limestone or dolomite limestone.

But if the soil has pH above 7, it is too alkaline; it must increase in its acidity level using sawdust and peat. The length of time in prepping clay soil depends on the amount of clay in the soil to grow a lush, healthy lawn which may take at least 2 years. Experienced gardeners would be mindful to determine the ground density for their preferred or selected grass type.

Read more: Beginner’s Guide to the Best Soil pH tester.

Step 2 – Break up Hard Clay Deposits

Once the pH of the clay is adjusted, the hard clay deposits must be broken up as the big clay blocks hinder grass growth as grass roots are short and weak unlike most weed roots. It helps if the soil is tilled to aerate the ground. Hence, turf grass grows well when the soil is less compact.

The best type of soil from prepped clay could be tested by scooping ½ cup of soil into the palm with a few drops of water to knead the soil into a ball. If the ball could be easily pressed with the thumb and index finger to form a flat ribbon, it should spread out into 1-2 inches long for a well formed clay-loam composition. A heavier clay soil would form a longer ribbon which is inappropriate for grass turf growth.

Step 3 – Add Topsoil and Other Components

Once the ground soil is ready, add topsoil, grass seed and other organic matter to the top layer of the tilled clay soil. Mulch, compost, gypsum and manure could be added to provide the necessary nutrients which grass thrive on. Gypsum is good at breaking up the soil particles to promote better aeration to the top layer.

Spreading such organic compost on the clay soil surface area of about 6 inches deep is great in preparing the ground with well-formed clay-loam soil to encourage green grass growth. If heavier clay soil persists even with prepping, the organic compost should be deepened to 8 inches instead.

The rich compost must be worked diligently into the soil with a tiller for breaking clumps to enhance organic matter dispersion. The soil must be left to rest for at least 2 months. The soil should be tested again using the ball test to confirm the right proportions of organic matter for good growth.

If the clay soil is still too heavy or dense, spread in another layer of organic compost and wait another period before executing the ball test until the right clay soil structure is achieved. Time is needed for the compost to change the soil composition.

Step 4 – Choice of Grasses

Since there is no better choice of soil than clay, choose grass types that grow well in it. Bermuda grass is a hardy warm season grass while bluegrass is known to be a cool season grass. Both types tolerate clay soil quite satisfactorily.

The lawn area must be properly measured for the amount of grass seeds or plugs required according to manufacturer’s recommendation for the selected grass type and space.

The selected seeds should be divided into 2 applications for seeding with half over the area using a broadcast spreader in a vertical path while the other half in a perpendicular direction for even coverage. The seeded area should be rolled over with a lawn roller full of water before spreading the top with a thin layer of straw mulch.

Gardeners could also scatter grass clippings across the lawn to promote growth in the clay soil. However, a check must be kept of the amount of grass clippings to avoid developing a thatch problem.

Step 5 – Mix grass seed with clover seed

Grass plugs could be planted in holes 6-inches apart along the lawn area. Water must be sprinkled to the soil to moisten the holes with one plug in one hole. Again, roll the planted area with a lawn roller filled with half a tank of water.

Besides the best choice of grass type, good grass growth could be encouraged with clover seed as the latter has long roots to break up the chunky clay. Clover seed also contributes nitrogen to the soil for better soil condition.

Clover is also a great grass alternative for soil in the midst of an extremely high clay percentage. Its advantage is its short growth which does not require frequent mowing. However, it does not handle traffic well. Moreover, clover attracts bees easily.

Step 6 – Avoid overwatering

The lawn cannot have too much water as it would compact the clay even more to become hard. The grass would also “drown” with too much water and no proper aeration.

The planted area must be moistened with only ¼ inch of water. This is best executed with a sprinkler where water is applied 1-2 times a day to ensure an evenly moist soil without oversaturation until the grass comes out.

A small water can is also useful in ensuring the limited amount of water to be applied at this point in time.

Final Outcome

Grass in clay soil needs time to grow even if the clay soil has been prepped. It could be months or seasons for the prepped clay soil to become conductive for the grass to grow favorably.

A lot of hard work must be put in to change the clay ground composition from a heavy soil to light soil with sufficient nutrients. This is where diligence is required in adding proper components of organic materials into the clay soil before laying the sod is ideal to get grass turf going.

Tips for better growth

There are certain tips in which grass would grow better in clay soil.

1) A variety of cool season grasses should be planted during the fall or spring. These grass varieties help to work out the clay-loam soil throughout the year. Gardeners could choose from annual ryegrass, hard and red fescue, colonial bent grass, Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass.

2) A variety of warm-season grasses like plugs could be planted from late spring all the way to early summer. These varieties are great in working out clay-loam soil. Gardeners could choose from Bermuda grass and buffalo grass to Zoysia and Saint Augustine grass.

3) Always test the pH and nutrient levels of the clay soil way ahead of laying new sod to enjoy the best outcome.

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Gardening

How to get rid of grass in my garden

Not every house wants grass on its lawn or yard. Homeowners in this category would need to find the best way to get rid of unwanted grass safely and effectively as not all methods are safe to humans and other living things.

Many grass elimination methods involve harmful chemicals which could adversely impact human lives. A safer alternative solution to get rid of garden grass would be resorting to natural methods which are also affordable and easy.

1) Using Newspaper

Newspapers are cost effective natural ways to get rid of grass in the yard. The newspaper forms the cheapest natural method in killing grass naturally while being readily available. It can handle small or large areas while being easily decomposable to supply nutrients to the soil.

Mow the area where the grass must be gotten rid of. Have that mowed area wet before laying layers of newspaper over the grass; about 8-10 sheets would be ideal in overlapping directions.

When the entire area is well covered with wet newspapers, mulch or landscape fabric could be added. This would prevent light from penetrating the area which causes the grass to die out eventually.

2) Using Plastic

Plastic is another good and effective option in killing off unwanted grass. It is an affordable option that is readily available today in most homes and stores. Again, mow the area first or till and rake manually until a smooth area is available.

Cover the grass with black plastic which serves to block out light; the grass roots would be smothered and new growth is prevented. Large rocks should be placed on the plastics to secure their position. After a season, the plastics could be removed to add mulch before planting. Landscape fabric could also be used as an alternative to the same effect.

3) Using Vinegar

Unwanted grass could be rid of using vinegar whether white or pickled. It is a natural ingredient that works effectively and safely without harmful chemicals. It is environmentally friendly but care must be exercised to prevent the survival of other plants and trees.

Vinegar is very appropriate as a natural killer for unwanted grass as it is readily available at the local stores. Vinegar works better during hot conditions on smaller patches of grass. The best time to get rid of unwanted grass using vinegar should be during hot summer days to enjoy better results. A simple saturation of the grassy area with vinegar would see a clean patch void of grass within days.

4) Simple Pulling of Roots

This is what most gardeners would resort to immediately when they want to remove grass or weeds in their garden. An immediate pulling out of the grass and roots takes place when the gardener walks by to see the weeds and unwanted grass.

Existing grass or weeds must be pulled out thoroughly before planting and seeding can take place. This exercise is commonly executed during spring. However, modern technology may make a gardener more lax in the manual tilling of the soil as it is a labor-intensive process. Diligent gardeners enjoy the good workout from this arduous task, but it may prove to be a challenging feat in a medium to large-sized garden or lawn. The better alternative would be an electric cultivator to lessen the physical effort.

5) Using mulch

Mulch is commonly used to kill off unwanted grass and weeds. New gardeners would discover quickly that mulch is formed through decaying materials such as compost and dead leaves to be spread over the soil surface with the objective of insulating or enriching the soil.

Mulch should be applied only when the area is cleared of weed and grass before lining the area with thick newspaper or plastic.

6) Using boiling water

Boiling water is very effective in killing grass or weed growths quickly as an immediate effect is seen.  Its effectiveness could be enhanced with a layer of mulch added to the targeted area.

7) Commercial Non-toxic Products

The market does carry various commercial grass killer products which are non-toxic. These are specially formulated organic weed killer which is eco-friendly with great smells.  But not every non-toxic grass killer commercial product can work on every type of grass. Gardeners need to check and confirm the right commercial product before purchasing to avoid disappointment or frustration where other plants could be adversely affected.

8) Using salt solution

Salt solution to kill unwanted grass must be carefully administered as the salinity of the soil could be changed. The right concentration of salt solution is dissolving one part salt into 8 parts water. Put the salt solution in a spray bottle to apply directly to any unwanted grass or weed.

9) Digging & tilling

Another energy consuming method is digging where harmful insects like the Japanese beetle grubs could be unearthed in removing unwanted grass or weeds. This method offers fast clean results with an immediate planting of the garden. However, a lot of effort is required in using a spade or fork which results in a lot of sore muscles later. Removed sod could be reused elsewhere for other plants.

Tilling would be a faster way than digging as a powerful machine is activated to churn out dormant weeds and their seeds effectively. Breaking up sod using a tilling machine is not as arduous as digging when small tillers come in handy for small patches while heavier and more powerful units work on larger patches. Large tillers could be a challenge to control and maneuver for inexperienced or physically weak gardeners.

10) Using Herbicides

Herbicides are available to get rid of unwanted grass but most are residual with too much risk of getting into the water supply which is highly dangerous for humans and other living things. There may be better alternatives with less residual like glyphosate which could be more expensive in removing grass from the lawn.

11) Physical removal

A physical removal of the sod by having it cut in strips using a sod cutter is a fast and effective way to remove grass. The strips are then rolled up to be disposed or left alone as compost. The cut sod could also be placed upside down to fill in a low spot in the garden.

This is a labor intensive activity using a flat shovel but it may not be very effective on persistent perennial lawn grass such as the Bermuda grass.

The roots of Bermuda grass are very long stretching several feet to grow back quickly even if the sod is removed. It takes only one inch of root for the Bermuda grass to re-grow. Only solarization or herbicides would be effective.

12) Solarization

Solarization refers to the sterilization of soil using clear plastic in high summer temperatures. The grass must be cut short with sufficient water before covering it well using large rolls of plastic without holes. The plastic sheets trap the sun’s energy in the soil to heat the top 12-18 inches of soil. The top 6 inches of soil could be heated as high as 140°F. After 4-8 weeks, the grass dies. The high temperature could also kill some insects, nematodes, plant diseases and soil pathogens at the top layer.

The dead grass layer could be left to decompose as compost. This is a very effective method with minimal labor and environmental impact although a significant amount of time is required.

13) Sheet composting

Sheet composting could be executed using different types of materials such as thick cardboards or purchased rolls where multiple layers are laid on top of each other with overlap edges that would prevent sunlight from entering through.

The cardboards are watered to be wet before covering with a compost layer followed by mulch of 4 inches thick. Grass or wildflower seeds could be scattered to the compost for a new meadow or holes could be punched out in the paper to plant new plants instead of waiting for the cardboards to decompose.

This method is advantageous with organic matter added to soil while minimal labor is exerted and no removal or disposal of turf is needed. This method is also known as “lasagna gardening” although it may not be practical on steep slopes.

Conclusion

There are plenty of ways to get rid of grass in any garden or yard but gardeners and homeowners may have to exercise caution in their choice of removal methods that would not jeopardize their own safety, health and the environment at any time.

Categories
Gardening

How to keep lawn green in winter

The lovely and fresh smell of grass is soon gone with the onset of winter where cold icy winds and white snow tend to cover up the greenness of the lawn. This could prove disappointing to many homeowners who have spent much time and effort, much less cost, in tending their lawn through spring, autumn and summer.

Winter is considered a homeowner’s nightmare where the lush green lawns turn into muddy or soggy turfs. However, with the best efforts and diligence, homeowners or gardeners could maintain the lawn even in the winter to ensure that the greenness does not fade away quickly.

frozen grass in winter

Lawn Maintenance in Winter

A good looking lawn or yard requires much effort where its grass must be frequently cut, fertilized and watered without excessiveness especially during winter. There are certain changes to the regular maintenance process in the winter which would alleviate gardening problems through careful processes.

Good lawn maintenance during winter involves understanding the type of winter expected and the types of grass a lawn is furnished with. These are two critical components in combating winter against the greenness of the lawn.

Winters could be cold and wet or they could be cold and dry depending on the location or continent. There are also wet and not-too-cold winters while dry and crisp cold winters are experienced on interior plateaus. Coastal regions may have more rainfall with the cold wind blowing during winter instead of icy dry winds.

A wide variety of grass is available for different types of lawns which grace a home at different parts of the earth. Many gardeners prefer:

  • Kikuyu
  • Buffalo
  • LM Berea
  • Bermuda
  • Gulf Green

Homeowners may have their own special preferences of grass to line their lawns. It is best to identify the most suitable grass options for any residential lawn by checking out the market as there may be new options emerging based on progressive technologies. This is because of the different properties and characteristics found in different types of grass requiring different types of care and maintenance.

Some lawn greens enjoy the full sun while others prefer the shade for better growth and display.

1) The Kikuyu (Pennisetum Clandestinum)

The Kikuyu is a very popular choice of lawn grass in many South African homes. This is known as the local grass to grace residential lawns. The Kikuyu is very affordable compared to other types in the market with its fast growth.

Although its origin is from Kenya which is warmer, the Kikuyu adapts well with frequent watering and full sun. Hence, a cold winter could wipe it out completely with the proper care. It could grow really fast with a favorable short recovery time which makes it an ideal choice as lawn greens especially with heavy traffic.

This is the preferred lawn grass for most sports fields where their quick re-growth would grace the lawn or field quickly after heavy usage.

2) The Buffalo (Stenotaphrum Secundatum)

The Buffalo grass adapts much better in the shade than the Kikuyu. It may be more expensive but shaded gardens would look exquisite with the Buffalo grass gracing its premises.

This grass type grows slower which could prove to be advantageous to gardeners who do not need to mow the lawn so frequently. There is no self-reviving property for the Buffalo grass like the Kikuyu which could be a strong survivor in any harsh condition. The Buffalo grass requires more tender loving care and maintenance; hence, it cannot be neglected.

Regular watering is a must to enjoy its darker green beauty. The Buffalo grass shows off broader leaves with a harder texture compared to other varieties.

3) The LM Berea

The LM Berea is a lawn grass that has high shade tolerance to be very popular in Kwa-Zulu Natal and similar environments. It is loved for its soft texture although it does not respond favorably to high traffic. To appreciate the softness of LM Berea grass, it should maintain a certain length without being mowed too short.

4) The Bermuda (Cynodon Dactylon)

A Bermuda lawn is beautiful but requires full sun most of the time to retain its beauty. However, it is easy to care for as it does not require too much water unlike other lawn types. The Bermuda lawn grass is often used in combating soil erosion as it has strong roots that grow really deep into the soil.

Hence, this type of lawn grass could be mowed short as its deep roots could readily re-grow quickly. Moreover, high traffic is tolerated really well to survive for a long time. This grass type is excellent as a long-term lawn solution without requiring too much water. It grows best where winter is not too wet to become over-hydrated.

5) The Blackjack

The Blackjack grass is a special shoot of Bermuda lawn grass as its genetically modified component. Hence, it is not surprising that the Blackjack is more aesthetic with its graceful texture and color. It grows well without too much water with more or less the same characteristics as the Bermuda grass.

6) The Gulf Green (Cynodan Transvaalensis)

This grass is also known as the ‘Golf Green’ as it is commonly found on golf courses. The Gulf Green is known as an indigenous species which is the ideal grass type for manicured lawns preferred. It is excellent for wet environments even in the winter where its color is maintained and its soft texture is felt.

The Gulf Green loves water with a good response to high traffic by growing quickly to accommodate that. It is not favorable towards dryer interior regions during winter as it is frost-shy.

Winter Conditions

It is noted that most lawns tend to become semi-dormant in the winter with slower growth while losing a bit of their dark green color as if the grass is hibernating. Harsh winter conditions could damage the grass more readily with a greater difficulty in repair works unless the gardener is diligent with a proper maintenance through a good understanding of their needs.

As prevention is better than cure, it is advisable to take good care of lawns throughout the year regardless of the season so that they look their best even in harsh or unfavorable weather conditions.

A good understanding of the characteristics of the grass like slow growth in the winter due to its semi-dormancy nature would help the gardener consider apt ways to motivate growth and survival until spring comes along.

Preparations Prior to Winter

Gardeners must be diligent in preparing the lawn before winter comes. As summer winds down, the lawns require less mowing with slower growth rate. The grass naturally prepares itself for the cold winter months but gardener could add on in certain ways to keep the grass nurtured and strong to withstand winter.

If proper lawn care has been religiously exercised throughout the full growing season, there is little more effort required to ensure the survival of the lawn during winter. Special points of care prior to winter is the adjustment of watering the lawn as the condescending cool weather does not permit the lawn grass to absorb as much water as during summer.

However, lawn mowing should continue on a regular basis to encourage new greens to shoot out. The lawn must be kept in the best condition before winter kicks in to survive the cold weather.

Effective Lawn Care Practices

Although lawn mowing is necessary during winter, it should become less frequent. The mowing exercise is to keep the lawn well maintained with a clean look. The lawn grass is still growing even during winter albeit slower.

If mowing is discontinued during winter, there could be a build-up of thatch layer during the winter which makes the grass brown and scalped when spring comes on. This is an ugly sight to be endured until hard work encourages the green leaf to come forth again.

Although the lawn does not need much watering during winter, however, some soil types may drain away their underground water reserves which dry up the grass roots especially if there is not sufficient rain in the winter months.

Lawn grass can continue to look fresh and green if the survival conditions are optimal. However, problems may arise with the arrival of spring when the lawns could go into shock with the warmth to turn brown. Hence, it is good to monitor the water levels in the soil throughout winter to avoid spring effects.

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Gardening

How to prevent squirrels from digging up my lawn?

A lovely lawn is the pride of the homeowner especially when it is personally taken care of by the homeowner. A personal caring of the lawn spurs up a totally different sense of ownership and pride unlike that executed by hired hands on lawn upkeeps.

However, the best of lawns could be destroyed by pests and unwelcome intruders like the squirrels whether in the city or country surroundings. These expert climbers dart quickly up and down trees while scampering across the beautifully mowed lawn digging here and there.

a squirrel on lawn

Pet or Pest?

While some individuals may coo over a squirrel as their pet, others are high strung over one when their lawn is messed up with holes and piles of soil dug up. This is due to the survival nature of squirrels which spend a lot of time foraging for food not just for the day but storing up for their future.

With the rapid development of mankind where forests are quickly transformed into housing estates or residential areas, it is not surprising to find many of these furry creatures uprooted from their natural habitats to forage in man’s backyards. These furry rodents have no inkling of the hard work put into maintaining a beautiful lawn all year round.

The backyard or garden has become a hotspot for squirrels in their natural survival mode activities. Another nature of squirrels is their persistency in finding their food; they do not give up until they find what they are after. Hence, it is not surprising to have them labeled as pests instead of pets although they could be adorable to some.

They have sharp teeth and fast eating habits to chew up fruits still on the plant or pull up vegetables like carrots from the neat rows in someone’s veggie plot. Many little unsightly holes are seen in landscaped yards that are turned into an unearthed landmine. These persistent critters could also occasionally destroy property as they tend to chew through objects that stand in their path for food.

However, it is possible to keep these unwelcome creatures away from the lawn or garden which homeowner could exercise.

1) Clear Off Incentives

A first step in stopping squirrels from coming into the yard to make it squirrel-proof is to remove or clear off any incentives. This would mean a consistent raking of leaves, nuts or berries fallen from trees to avoid squirrels being lured into the yard by their scent or sight.

Trash cans should also be closed tightly with proper lids to avoid squirrels becoming scavengers. This practice also deters other scavengers from messing up the trash can and surroundings.

Homeowners could trim off long hanging branches in or near their garden to discourage squirrels from hopping and popping over so easily. Squirrels could also nest in these trees and access the garden through the branches in their scavenging routines.

2) Using Repellants

The market has a special repellant that is effective at keeping squirrels away; this squirrel repellant is easily available at local hardware stores or lawn upkeep shops. Innovative homeowners could conjure up their own special concoction of squirrel repellants from their kitchen.

Squirrels are not fans of spicy food scents; hence, a sprinkling of hot spices like chili powder or cayenne pepper over the yard should ward off these critters. The spices do not physically harm the squirrels or plants but they are effective in deterring squirrels from chewing or digging up the lawn with the foul odor.

A simple natural squirrel deterrent item is the garlic with a strong odor which even squirrels cannot put up with. Homeowners could also chop up jalapeno pepper or garlic and mix it with water and vinegar to squirt on those who dare show their face despite the other deterrents put in place. These natural repellants need to be reapplied after every rainfall.

Squirrels do not like the strong scent of peppermint which makes it an excellent choice of repellant on squirrels. A live peppermint plant placed in a pot could put the squirrels at bay; alternatively, concentrated peppermint oil exudes a strong scent which is repulsive to squirrels. A few drops of this oil on cotton balls would do the trick when placed around the yard or garden.

Some homeowners may use mothballs which prove to be a nuisance to squirrels. These could be placed in nylon stockings to be hung around the yard to keep squirrels out.

3) Place Predator Scents

A squirrel is part of the natural chain of food web where it could be a prey or predator although it thrives mainly on fruit and vegetables. Homeowners could adopt a dog or cat as a pet to ward off squirrels as these are known to be predators to the smaller critters.

The presence of a predator proves to be a strong deterrent to the squirrel where the dog or cat is likely to have some fun chasing after any squirrel that is bold or foolish enough to come into the garden. A predator pet is a highly effective natural squirrel repellant. Homeowners get the satisfaction of keeping the garden free from squirrel invasion as well as enjoy their pet.

Cats and dogs are highly hyped up with moving creatures smaller than themselves. Hence, it is an innate motivation to chase after squirrels. It could also be a case of territorial possession with cats and dogs if squirrels should try to cross their territory.

Instead of an actual predator like a pet, homeowners could simplify matters with the scent of a predator. The predator urine or repellant scent is highly effective in keeping squirrels away as fear is instilled although the predator is not in sight. Such repellant scent could be purchased online or from hunting stores in town.

This type of scents deceives the squirrels with a false impression of potential threat in the backyard. However, these scents could be washed off after rain or snow; hence, a reapplication is necessary.

4) Diversion

A diversion is another excellent way in keeping squirrels away from the backyard or garden. This would involve luring the critters away with more alluring food outside the premises. Squirrels could munch on flowers and plants out of hunger if they could not find their preference.

Homeowners could place a squirrel feeder with appetizing food that would entice squirrels to that direction instead of the backyard or garden. This could include peanuts or sunflower seeds which are popular squirrel fare. Such foods could be located further away from the premises like the edge of the yard or the path leading to the forest if possible. This would prevent the squirrels from hunting too far from home.

5) Instill Fear

Electronic devices from advanced technologies could prove helpful in keeping squirrels away from the premise. Motion sensitive lights or even high-frequency sound emitters are highly effective in frightening off squirrels.

Motion-activated sprinkler systems prove effective when they are turned on to shock squirrels as they try to tread across the lawn. Squirrels are easily scared creatures with every little movement or motion. The grass gets watered at the same time.

Lawn Sprinkler, UNIFUN Garden Sprinklers Water Entire Lawn And Garden Without Oscillating Systems Waste

6) Fence Up

Good fences could protect the foliage from being uprooted by squirrels. Fences could keep the squirrels on the outside but the right type of fence must be installed. Fencing must be buried deep enough to discourage squirrels from digging under the fence to come into the garden.

Mesh netting is an alternative to fencing where specific items could be protected from squirrel invasion. Budding flowers or fruit plants could be surrounded by mesh netting of tight-knit holes which squirrels cannot squeeze through. Hence, squirrels would not be able to snack on plants and fruits which would have the opportunity to bloom and ripen.

7) Traps

Traps could also be used to get rid of squirrels that persist in invading the territory. Simple mouse traps could be placed around the yard with some alluring foods as bait. This could include some of the squirrels’ favorite foods like fruit or nuts.

Conclusion

Squirrels that ruin a well-kept lawn or garden are viewed as pests although it is their natural instinct to hunt for food in order to survive. These are very adaptable creatures which learn to thrive in changing environments as their own habitat is destroyed or transformed.

It may not be possible to eliminate squirrels totally from the backyard or garden but the above options could lessen homeowners’ frustration on their well-kept yards, flora and fauna.