Spring Clean-up

Spring has sprung early this year. You may have thought that all the yard care work you did last fall would pay off this spring. You got all the leaves raked and the roses covered. All you thought you’d need to do is some minor lawn care and everything would be all set and ready to go. If you really thought that, then it is probably the first time you have ever owned a home with a lawn and landscape to care for. There is always cleanup work to do in the spring.

Tip #1: Assess your lawn damage.

The first thing you should do is to take a walk round your lawn and survey the effects the winter had on your property. If you have a dog, you may have to clean up their winter “activity”. There is no quick cure for dog damage except lots of water to wash the salts from the urine into the soil. In most cases, the grass will recover. If the damage is severe, resodding or new lawn seeding of the areas may be necessary.

Tip #2: Check your grass for Snow Mold.

Check your grass for matted patches that could signal the development of Snow Mold. This lawn disease glues the grass blades together, which may inhibit the new grass from growing through the mat. A light raking to break up the matted grass will remedy this situation. If the grass was left too long last fall, an early mowing at 1 1/2 to 2” is advisable. This will remove much of the dead grass from last year’s growth and allow the new growth to come through easier. A light raking of the entire lawn is also beneficial. This is especially true if there are leaves still scattered across the lawn.

Note: Be careful if the ground is wet when you are raking. Vigorous raking can uproot the grass plants.

Tip #3: Wait to uncover your garden’s roses.

Do not uncover your roses until the danger of a heavy frost is over. When you do uncover them, clean away any soil or other organic material that was used to seal them in for the winter. This material can carry disease spores that can infect your plants. While the plants are still dormant, you can improve their health and vigor with these selective pruning steps:

  • Remove any dead, blackened, or damaged wood.
  • Prune the cane down to healthy wood, just before a leaf bud.
  • Remove any branches that may be crossing, that are twiggy, or are growing out of the side of a cane.
  • Remove old canes at the bud union and leave 3 to 5 good ones that are evenly distributed.
  • Delay mulching around the plants as this will keep the soil cold and delay the growth of the bushes.

Tip #4: Check the remaining aspects of your landscape for damage, growth progress and needed improvements.

Check your woody landscape plants for injury — particularly the evergreens. Do not be too alarmed if you do not see new growth. Wait until the buds have opened before removing any dead branches, unless they are broken. Take the same “wait and see” approach with perennial plants. Remove any mulch that was placed there to protect them. Some plants take a longer time to come out of winter dormancy than others do. If scale insects or tent caterpillars bothered your landscape plants last year, then you should consider spraying with dormant oil before the buds open. This material will smother the egg cases or over-wintering adults.

Spring is a time of rebirth and reawakening from a long winter’s nap. It is also a time to set up your yard for a successful summer. Getting out into the fresh air of spring can do much to revitalize you as well as your plants. Spend a couple of hours doing some proactive turf care and you will be rewarded with a healthier and more vigorous landscape. It will do wonders for you, as well.

Pride In A Job Well Done

There are many ingredients that contribute to a successful project or professional activity in general. Just to name a few, let’s say technical competence, mature processes and/or practices, good management, fair compensation, inspiring leadership, responsibility and professional ethics. Among many others, of course.

But there is a single one thing that melts among the ingredients I’ve mentioned … sometimes it makes them emerge, sometimes it empowers them. But for sure, it’s not just one more, it’s special, it’s the one that makes quality emerge from the very inner core of the individual, beyond management, processes or anything else … and to me, this is PRIDE IN A JOB WELL DONE.

You may be saying “What?, Pride?” … and yes, I said pride in a job well done. That is, feeling well in doing a good job just for the sake of it! It is not that more material rewards do not make you give your best. They do, many times, and it’s just the normal thing to happen … but there are also many times when you can get the same payment, raise, promotion, etc, for doing a job just of average quality. And in these cases, the difference is made by pride in a job well done: doing your best within your possibilities, disregarding that you probably would receive the same reward (money, etc) with a job of inferior quality.

People who take pride in doing the best possible job are probably the best asset an organization can have. You can have disagreements with them about salaries, positions, working hours, workplace furniture and whatever you may think. But be sure, people who take pride in a job well done put quality first for a very personal reason. They know that any discussion or disagreement can’t put their job’s quality in jeopardy. Eventually, they will leave a job in which they’re not comfortable, but still, they will give their best until the last day. They’re quintessentially professional … the very spirit of quality.

Unfortunately, I find that these kind of people are becoming rare … more and more difficult to find. Maybe corporations are to blame, because they have not rewarded these people better than their less-quality-conscious colleagues in the past. Maybe it’s just no longer fashionable to have pride in a job well done. Maybe it’s just that I’m getting older … or maybe it’s that I’m just an idealist, a dreamer.

But in any case, and rare as they may be, I am fortunate to know many people that take pride on a job well done. And believe me, they make a huge difference! Do you know someone who, beyond being technically brilliant, takes pride in a job well done? If the answer is “yes”, lucky you … because then, you know one of the exceptional individuals that make quality possible in our world.

Benefits of Having Your Lawn Professionally Fertilized

Owning a home is one of the best financial decisions that one can make as it is a good and sound financial investment. One also finds joy in the way in which a home is maintained as it brings a sense of comfort and convenience when everything both inside and outside of the home looks its absolute best.

One of the more engaging elements of a home is the yard and outside area. This is the place where many homeowners enjoy all throughout the year. From cookouts with friends and family to having a place for kids to run around and play to the ability to sit quietly and read a book while being surrounded by the natural beauty of the outdoors; the yard is an area of the home that deserves the right amount of attention to help ensure it always looks great.

The grassy areas of the outside of a home are some of the more challenging to maintain on one’s own without the help of professionals. This is because grass tends to grow in patches or die in heavily used areas when not maintained properly. Though one could fertilize the grass on their own; they most likely do not have access to the absolute best products, equipment or tricks that are essential in making sure the right fertilizer approach is used for a truly lush, plush and green yard.

The use of a professional firm for fertilizing your lawn is the best way to help make sure that your grass is always bright green, thick, free from weeds and well manicured. this is because those that have experience and expertise in fertilizing grass know how to best apply the fertilizer, know which fertilizers to use based on the location of the property and the type of grass being grown and how to best apply the fertilizer. It may seem easy enough to throw down some fertilizer and get a great looking lawn, however, that tends to only cause more problems and thus using a professional from the start will help keep your yard the envy of the neighborhood.

Sprinkler Winterization

Now that night temperatures are dipping below freezing, it’s time to think about turning off your irrigation system.

Shorter days, cooler temperatures and plant dormancy, all signal decreased needs for water. To avoid damage from freezing, shut off your system before cold temperatures arrive. Watch the weather and the long-term forecasts to know when the time is right to shut down your irrigation system. Most years, you’ll want to turn it off by Halloween.

Before you do, soak your trees and shrubs to a depth of 18 inches to make sure the soil is moist. Irrigate to the drip line of the plants — the outer tips of the branches — using soaker hoses or sprinklers. Most drip systems, unless they are sprayers, don’t provide sufficiently uniform water coverage to do the job.

To determine if you’ve watered enough, stick a piece of rebar, a long screwdriver, or another indicator into the soil. If it pushes in readily to the 18-inch depth, you’ve watered enough. You can also dig a hole to the 18-inch depth to check soil moisture, but be sure to avoid damaging the roots. Note about how long you watered, and you’ll be ahead of the game next year.

To avoid damage to irrigation systems, take a few steps to prepare them for winter. If you don’t, you can expect to spend time next spring digging up your water lines to repair winter freeze damage. You can hire a professional lawn service to do the job, or do it yourself.

To winterize your irrigation system, start by turning off the controller, if you have one. Check the owner’s manual to figure out how to do this. Then, shut off the water to the irrigation system at the main valve.

Next, drain any above ground irrigation components that hold water. Blow out the pipes in your sprinkler system, keeping the pressure under 50 pounds per square inch (psi). Experts advise blowing out each valve in the system, and then repeating the process a second time. Be careful and wear safety goggles. If this sounds too complicated, or you don’t have an air compressor, consider hiring a contractor to do this part. Don’t forget to drain your drip system. Since drip lines are usually on the ground surface or under mulch, they’re susceptible to freezing.

With the water turned off, undo the end caps and let the system drain. If you want to use a compressor, keep the pressure under 30 psi to avoid damaging system components. Don’t forget to put the end caps back on to keep water and debris from clogging up the system. You don’t need to move the tubing or emitters once emptied, but timers should be stored at above-freezing temperatures.

Even with your system shut down for winter, some plants still need water. Trees should also be watered if it’s been three to four weeks without significant precipitation such as an inch or so of water. Be sure to water the root ball of newly planted trees regularly through the winter and early spring.

Roses also appreciate water during the winter. Use a watering can to apply a few cups of water at least once a month, but don’t prune them now. Wait until spring.

Most lawns will do just fine without winter irrigation. The exceptions are newly seeded or sodded lawns that have not yet developed robust root systems. They’ll also need water if it’s been dry for three to four weeks, as long as the soil is not frozen.

If you don’t want to fire up your irrigation system, use a hose and sprinkler. A little winter care will yield healthy plants in the spring.