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How To Select The Perfect Christmas Tree

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Step 1: Choose the Right Tree

christmas tree with ornaments and lightsSelecting the perfect tree is essential when it comes to decorating for Christmas. Get the best tree you can to ensure it lasts and looks great the entire holiday season. There are a lot of Christmas tree options out there from which to choose. Here are some examples of the most common trees out there at hardware stores and garden centers.

  • Douglas Fir. These are the most common trees available. The trees are tall, slender and aromatic and their needles are short, soft and bluish-green. They need plenty of water to avoid shedding.
  • Scotch Pine. Another common tree type. Scotch pines are the #1 sold Christmas tree in the U.S. They have very sturdy branches and also retain their needles better and last longer than some species. Needles are dark green.
  • Blue Spruce. These trees have stiff needles that are a silvery green color. When watered adequately, these trees can last for a month and still look great.
  • Fraser Fir. An attractive tree with green-and-silver, two-toned needles with good needle retention. Often referred to as the “no shed” tree.

If you are cutting your own Christmas tree, there are likely many tree farms in your area that will allow you to choose a tree and cut it down yourself. If you’ll be cutting your own, be sure you leave the house with a hand saw, some twine, a blanket for when you strap the tree to your vehicle and some gloves to protect your hands.

If you will be buying a pre-cut tree, make sure it is freshly cut. Touch the needles and branches to see if a significant amount comes off in your hand. Lightly bang the base of the tree on the ground; if an excessive amount of needles falls off, the tree is not fresh. Test the limbs to see if they are sturdy enough to hold the weight of ornaments. Also, if the tree is fresh, you should be able to smell the tree’s fragrance easily. The tree should be a dark green color all over with no areas of brown needles. Check to be sure that the bottom of the tree trunk is sticky with resin. Needles should not break when bent between your fingers. As when cutting down a tree yourself, bring twine and a blanket for strapping the tree to the top of your car, if you don’t have a truck or similar vehicle with room to stow the tree for the trip to your home.

 

  • Step 2: Find the Right Spot

    Find the right location for your tree. A little forethought will help avoid any problems once you have your tree and start decorating for Christmas. Take the time to measure the dimensions of your room. Use a measuring tape to check the height, bearing in mind the dimensions of your tree stand. It’s a good idea to leave at least 6″ from the ceiling to the top of your tree. Don’t forget to ensure that the room is wide enough for the size of tree you want if you’re going to place the tree in a corner or alcove. Write these measurements down. Take your tape measure with you when you go to purchase the tree to be sure the Christmas tree you select will fit.

    When you get your new tree home, be sure to put it into a bucket of water as you prepare to erect it. Don’t place the tree in high-traffic areas where it could get knocked over by children or pets, or where your family could trip over tree light electrical cords. Trees are usually best placed in a corner or in front of a window for optimal effect.

    Safety Alert!

    Never place your Christmas tree near a heat source, such as a radiator or fireplace, as this can present a fire hazard.

    Helpful Tip

    Consider anchoring the tree to a wall with a thin rope or heavy-duty string and an eyebolt as an added safety feature to help stabilize the tree. You can use this safety feature and easily hide it so it doesn’t detract from your tree’s appearance.

  • Step 3: Give It Water

    Water your tree daily to keep your tree alive. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times. The average tree can soak up to a gallon of water a day. When choosing a tree stand, be sure to find out how much water the stand holds when a tree is in it. Consider using Tree Preserve, a water additive that extends the life of the tree, keeps it greener longer, and helps prevent the needles from drying out. Remember, a thriving tree stays green longer and it makes it less of a safety hazard, as water keeps the tree moist and more fire-resistant.

    Safety Alerts!

    A dry tree can be a fire hazard. Before stringing lights on the tree, make sure the bulbs and the light string itself is in working order and intact without fraying or tears. Use lights rated for indoor use only. Do not place the tree directly in front of a heat or air conditioning duct as this will dry out the needles faster.

    When the tree is plugged in, be careful when watering to avoid electric shock.

  • Step 4: Decorate It

    Decorate the tree the way you want. This is the fun part! When adding lights to your Christmas tree, work from the inside, close to the tree trunk and out toward the tips of the branches. When you reach the tip of a branch, wrap your way back toward the trunk. Mini lights and C7 Christmas lights are typically used to decorate indoor trees.

    Helpful Tip

    Consider using LED holiday lights. They’re more efficient than regular light strings and don’t put off as much heat.

  • Step 5: Recycle It

    Dispose of your tree properly after the holiday season—don’t just throw out your tree with the trash. Recycle or mulch it yourself. Many municipalities have recycling centers where you can take your tree or have it picked up for recycling. Check with your local officials to see what options are available.

    Happy holidays! With good care, a Christmas tree can easily stay fresh for a month or even longer.

 

Begin Your Fall Seeding Projects With The Right Products

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Seeding Guide

Why should I overseed my lawn?

Overseeding is planting grass seed over an existing lawn.  Overseeding is usually done to correct thin lawns that have been damaged by environmental stresses.  The results from overseeding will only be maximized IF new and improved turfgrass varieties are seeded into your lawn.  Black Beauty grass seed guarantees your success!  Black Beauty will fill in bare spots quickly and create the green, lush, healthy lawn that you’ve always desired.

The best time for overseeding is in the late summer or early fall.  The seed will germinate better because temperatures are cooler, rainwater is plentiful, the ground is warm and weeds are less active.  You will also have several weeks for the grass to germinate before tree leaves start falling.

Begin your seeding project with the right products!

Before you begin preparing the seed bed, make sure that you have the following products:

First, as stated above, choose Black Beauty grass seed mixtures when seeding for a beautiful, dark-green look that will also give you outstanding drought, disease, and insect resistance.

Second, IF you have a pH that is low (below 6.2), then be sure that you have Mag-I-Cal to adjust it.  Your lawn’s pH should be between 6.2 and 7.  A pH tester, found in most garden centers and hardware stores, is an easy way to figure out your soil pH.  If you pH is fine, then skip to the next step.

Third, IF the soil is very hard, then be equipped with Love Your Soil to loosen it.  To test for soil compaction, push your finger into the soil.  If the soil doesn’t come up to the first knuckle, then you have a compaction problem.  Growing a lawn in such an area will be difficult because water and air will not be able to penetrate the root zone.  Of course, Love Your Soil will correct the problem.  If you soil is not hard, then skip to the next step.

Fourth, Green-Up for Seeding and Sodding is a lawn food that is specially formulated for seeding and sodding.  It is rich in potassium, an essential nutrient needed for grass seed to develop deep and dense roots.  You will use Green-Up for Seeding and Sodding with Black Beauty grass seed ON THE SAME day that you are seeding.  Of course, if you have a soil problem (pH and/or compaction), then you will use Mag-I-Cal and Love Your Soil ON THE SAME DAY, as well.  Let’s get started.

How do I plant and grow grass seed?

First, rake the soil with a metal tine rake to remove any dead grass, thatch, or residue build-up.  If you have a large area to rake, then a thatching rake (or “power rake”) can be rented from a tool rental center.  It is very important to create grooves in the soil for the grass seed to properly lodge into.  This is known as “seed-to-soil contact”.  Such contact is critical to achieving the maximum germination.

Second, apply the grass seed (Black Beauty) with a spreader.  Use the settings on the back of the bags for ALL products – grass seed, lawn foods, or soil conditioners – to secure the proper rate. If your spreader is not listed on the bag, then simply visit the Jonathan Green website (www.jonathangreen.com), click on the “Spreader Settings” icon, locate your spreader, and use the rate listed for it.

Third, apply the seeding lawn food (Green-Up for Seeding & Sodding).

Fourth, if your soil needs a pH adjustment, then apply Mag-I-Cal.

Fifth, if your soil is hard and not crumbly, then apply Love Your Soil.

Watering the lawn of a private house with the help of irrigation sprinkler

Last, keep the seed bed moist.  The seed bed should be wet for a few weeks while the grass seed is germinating.  Light waterings, 2 to 3 times per day (early morning, early afternoon, late afternoon), are of benefit during the early days when the newly sown seed is establishing.  Within a few weeks, after the newly formed grass is mowed, you can decrease the watering schedule.  NEVER water it at night.  Excessive moisture on established grass leaves can lead to fungal problems down the road.

When will my grass seed sprout?

Black Beauty grass seed takes about 10 to 14 days to germinate.  As a general rule, perennial ryegrass germinates the quickest (about 7 days).  Fine fescues – including the creeping, chewing, and hard types – usually take about 10 to 20 days. Tall Fescue usually takes 10 to 14 days, but can be slow to establish under very cold temperatures.  Kentucky bluegrass is the slowest germinator, usually in 20 to 30 days, but even longer with cold temperatures.  Remember, “germinate” means a start to grow.  You can’t expect a filled in lawn in 10 days!

Mow the new grass once it reaches a height of 4”.  Keep the mowing height at 3”, except for the last cut of the year which should be 2 inches in height.  This is very important for your lawn during the winter months. The shorter mowing height helps the grass plant roots survive winter stress.

With Daniel’s Lawn & Garden Landscaping services we can help you create your ideal outdoor living space. Let our expert staff show you how!

SAVE 10% OFF YOUR FALL LANDSCAPE SERVICES FROM DANIELS!

Our Landscaping Service includes:

  • FREE ESTIMATES – CONTACT US TODAY
  • Residential and Business Projects
  • Creation and Installation of Garden Beds, Walls, Walkways, and Patios.
  • Installation of Trees, Shrubs
  • Grading, Seeding, and Installation of Lawns
  • Above Ground Pool Installation

We are ICPI certified, fully insured, and offer FREE ESTIMATES. References available on request.

PA Contractor License #PA013212

If you are interested in developing a ‘do it yourself’ project, then consider our new in-house landscaping design program. We’ll provide you with the guidance and direction to do it right the first time. Contact our staff to schedule a 30 minute in-store consultation. We also offer other home improvement project services…please inquire and we can help you with your needs.

Our landscaping services are available throughout Bucks, Montgomery, Chester, Lehigh and Berks Counties and not limited to the following areas: Harleysville, Skippack, Trappe, Collegeville, Perkasie, Souderton, Telford, Vernfield, Schwenksville, Red Hill, Green Lane, Pennsburg, Sellersville, Dublin, and Quakertown.

Our finished project gallery will be available on our website in the near future.

Lawn Seeding Tips

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patton-lawn (1)

Even in well maintained lawns, spot or general lawn seeding is sometimes needed. Lawns can thin because of weather, a result of damage caused by insects, or grass diseases. Some badly damaged lawns need to be completely “rebuilt” before regular maintenance can do much good.

There are three general categories of seeding: spot seeding, lawn renovation and overseeding a lawn, and renovation. What type is right for growing grass on your lawn depends on the condition of your turf. Spring-Green professionals can help with all of your lawn seeding questions and needs.

Whatever type of seeding is done, there are three important rules to follow when seeding a lawn:

  1. High quality seed should always be used
  2. The seed has to make good contact with the soil
  3. Enough water has to be supplied to assure germination and establishment.

Tip #1: Choose the lawn seeding system that’s right for you and your turf.

Spot seeding is a quick and easy way to repair things like ruts along driveways, areas worn by foot traffic, and small areas that have died for any reason. When spot seeding a lawn, use a stiff rake or potato hoe to cultivate the soil and break open the surface. Apply seed to the open seedbed and gently tamp down.

Overseeding a lawn broadcasts the seed over a large area. This works well when the lawn just needs a general “thickening up.” Overseeding can be done along with lawn aeration or by itself, but doesn’t work too well when there is a heavy thatch layer.

Lawn renovation is for lawns that have excessive thatch, or are so thin, that only a complete rebuild will get the lawn back on its feet. Lawn renovation can be done several ways: old sod can be removed with a sod cutter; the lawn can be de-thatched and seeded; or slice-seeding can be used. Slice-seeding (or verticut seeding) is probably the best for growing grass because it “drills” the seed into the soil without having to remove a large amount of thatch.

Tip #2: Before you begin seeding a lawn, consider the current season.

It’s true that seeding can be successful any time of year, but spring and summer lawn seeding require more care and water, and weeds and crabgrass cause a lot more competition. Seeding a lawn in late summer or fall is ideal. Early fall is preferred because seeds can germinate faster in the warm soil and continue to establish itself through the cooler weather of fall and winter. There’s also more natural water in the fall so less sprinkling is needed.

Tip #3: Whatever time of year you choose for seeding your lawn, remember to keep the seed moist until you have good germination.

Tip #4: Sprinkle lightly several times a day during hot weather until the grass is 1” tall.

Tip #5: Avoid any type of weed control until the new grass has been mowed 4 or 5 times.

When to plant mums?

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Every year in the fall, I suffer a bout of mum madness when garden centers and big boxes brim with chrysanthemums. They produce lovely fall colors, but when is the best time to plant mums?

When to Plant Mums

In autumn, mums and asters are everywhere, from six-inch pots to bushel baskets of orange, yellow, pink, and copper mounded behemoths.

Chrysanthemum

Planting Mums

All mum plants at garden centers are hardy, meaning that they are perennials in most climates. However, if these plants are put in the ground from August on, most won’t make it through the winter in areas where temperatures dip into the single digits. The reason is that mums planted late in the season are near or at the flowering stage, and they don’t grow roots to sustain plants through the winter. All the energy is put into blooming. That is why mums are best planted in the spring.

Gardeners in northern states where temperatures regularly dip below zero can lose even spring-planted hardy mums to winter. You can changes the odds in your favor by leaving the dead foliage on mums and asters instead of shearing for neatness. An Iowa State University study found that unpruned plants survive at much lower temperatures than those that were pruned. Be sure to add 4 to 6 inches of mulch after the ground has frozen for more protection.

Chrysanthemum

Potted mums from the florist or grocery store and exotics like huge football chrysanthemums, delicate spiders and spoons don’t survive cold winters either and are not good choices for landscapes. They are not bred to be hardy; it’s their form, color and size that are prized. Think of them as disposable decorations, along with the gourds and blue pumpkins you buy.

Overwintering a Mum

If winters are too cold for a favorite or you didn’t plant them early enough, overwinter chrysanthemums in the basement or a dark, cold closet. Pot up plants after the first frost if they are in the ground; include as much root system as possible. Water well and place in an area where it is totally dark and 32ºF to 50ºF. The plants will hibernate for the winter if you keep their roots damp. Check pots weekly. In the spring, acclimate plants to light gradually and set them out in the garden after the last killing frost.

With a bit of forethought and care, you can keep your mums blooming year after year!

With All This Rain, How Should I Be Mowing My Wet Lawn?

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lawn mowing

Everyone has heard the old saying, “April showers bring May flowers.”  This may be because spring is often the time of year when most of the country receives plenty of rain. Mowing can be a real challenge when it seems like it rains every weekend.

For those of you who use a maintenance service, your normal mowing day is often pushed back due to rain delays.  Since these companies are in the business to mow lawns, sometimes they have to “push it” to make sure that each client is serviced in a timely schedule. Still, they have to take precautions to avoid damaging lawns. For those of us who still mow our own lawns, the weekend is usually the only time we have sunlight and the spare time to mow. Here are some best practices for mowing wet grass.

Take Precaution

If you have to mow your lawn when it is wet follow these 2 precautionary steps.

  1. Make sure you have a sharp blade on your mower, it is always a good idea, but even more so when the grass is wet.
  2. Be sure to clean the underside of the deck as the grass will stick to the underside of the deck. Use extra caution when performing this task and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for accessing the underside of the deck.  If nothing else, be sure to disconnect the spark plug wire.

Potential Risks

If possible, wait for the grass to dry off before mowing. Mowing when the turf and soil are wet can lead to other problems:

  • If you are using a mulching mower or a bagger attachment, they will often get clogged with wet grass and not function properly.
  • Wet soil will compact easier than dry soil, which can lead to poor rooting of the turf.
  • If you use a riding mower, you could tear out sections of grass when:
    • making turns
    • mowing on sloped areas
    • Starting a new pass from a dead stop.

Length Matters

Ideally, you should set your mower so that you do not remove more than one-third of the leaf blade at any time.  However, that is not always possible in the spring when it seems to rain all of the time.

Lawn Mowing

As long as you are mowing high and not leaving behind large clipping clumps it won’t be detrimental, if you do cut more than one-third of the leaf blade off. When this happens on my own lawn, I will set the mower at the highest setting and mow in one direction and then I lower it one notch and mow in a perpendicular direction.

Summer will arrive soon enough and mowing will turn into a normal weekly event. There may even come a time later in the summer when it becomes dry and you may not even need to mow your lawn. Just remember to mow your lawn high and it is always a good idea to leave the clippings behind to recycle the nutrients back into your lawn.

Shrubs for Summer Color

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Shrubs for Summer Color

 

summershrub2

Many gardeners assume that the brightest flowers are only seen in spring, but there are many stunning shrubs that have great color all through the summer. Some feature outstanding blooms while others have equally showy foliage and can brighten up any yard. But which will look best in your yard?

Top Summer Color Shrubs

There are a number of tried-and-true summer-flowering shrubs that never fail to be impressive. Consider these favorites to enhance your landscape all summer long.

  • Hydrangea
    This very popular mounding shrub is an old-fashioned favorite, but it doesn’t have to be just your grandmother’s shrub – there are hydrangeas for every situation and taste. Flowers appear in early summer and can last for several weeks. Choose from pink, blue (use an acidic fertilizer to maintain this unusual color) or white blooms. Large flower heads great for drying or make outstanding arrangements and bouquets when cut. These shrubs do best in light shade or sun. One of the easiest hydrangeas to grow is the native American oak-leafed hydrangea has lobed leaves with fragrant, conical-shaped flower heads.
  • Butterfly Bush (Buddleia)
    This dramatic shrub is truly a butterfly magnet, and hummingbirds love it as well. One of the most fragrant flowering shrubs, butterfly bush blooms from early summer to autumn frost, and different varieties can thrive in a wide range of growing zones. The flowers can be pink, purple, blue, yellow or white, and often feature elegant spiked panicles, arching branches and interesting foliage. These shrubs do best in full sun and come in different sizes to suit different landscaping areas.
  • Spirea
    A generally low-maintenance choice, this shrub features golden yellow to lime-colored foliage all summer with pink or lavender blooms in late spring through summer. Goldmound, Gold Flame and Anthony Waterer are all great cultivars and easy care shrubs growing to about 2-4’ by 3-5’. This truly is the perfect shrub to use anywhere in the landscape, and it can tolerate sun to part shade growing conditions.
  • Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus)
    This is one of the showiest plants of the summer, and Rose of Sharon is also one of the easiest to grow. Dense growing and upright when young these shrubs will spread with age, so take care to plant them in appropriate spaces to avoid overcrowding. The dark green foliage contrasts nicely with large, showy flowers that can be up to 4” across. Flowers open in July and will continue blooming through late summer and into fall. Flowers are sterile, eliminating seed problems. This shrub is ideal to plant as a screen, hedge or focal point in full sun.
  • Blue Mist Spirea (Caryopteris)
    This shrub is a great plant for late summer color with bursts of purple-blue flowers just when many other plants are growing dull. Its low-growing, mounding habit reaches 2-3’ wide by 2-3’ tall. Blue Mist Spirea is easy to grow and can tolerate some neglect. It should be planted in full sun, and will bloom from summer to fall.

With any of these shrubs in your yard, your summer landscape can be just as colorful and eye-catching as any spring flowers or autumn foliage.

July Gardening Tips

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July Gardening Tips

Regional Gardening Tips for Summer

Harvested vegetables from the garden


Westend61/ Westend61/ Getty Images

July gardening chores run the gamut. If only July were more predictable in the garden. It doesn’t matter how wet the spring was, rain can become very elusive in July. Humidity begins to peak. It’s the beginning of the rainy season in Florida. And warmer zones are actually passing out of prime growing conditions into the lethargy of the dog days.

So there’s no definitive list of gardening chores for the July garden.

Gardeners just have to play it by ear. Most importantly, keep a close eye on pests and disease, then sit back and enjoy your garden and all the efforts you put in earlier in the year to get it where it is now.

July Gardening Chores for All Hardiness Zones

  • Slow down and give you and your plants a rest from the heat. It can be very stressful growing and setting flower buds for several months, let alone doing it in heat.
  • Give plants a mid-season feeding or side dressing of compost, to get them through to the fall.
  • Keep tabs on rainfall and water as needed. Most plants need at lest an inch of water per week, more if the weather is very hot and dry. Remember to water deeply.
  • Stay ahead of weeds. Pulling them before they flower could save you from thousands of new weeds.
  • Replace mulch as needed. It naturally decomposes and may need replenishing.
  • Check garden centers for mark downs on remaining plants. Be sure to check that they are healthy and not pot bound or full of weeds.

  • Keep lawns at about 3 inches, to protect from summer heat.
  • Keep bird feeders and baths clean.

Special Care for Ornamental Plants in July

  • Keep up on deadheading. The more you deadhead, the more your flowers will re-bloom.
  • Shear back spent annuals by one-third. The old foliage gets worn out by mid-summer and shearing it back will encourage fresh new growth to fill in.

  • Focus on heat and rain resistant flowers like: coleus, hibiscus, melampodium, pentas, plumbago, portulaca and zinnias.
  • Do a final pinching by mid-July, of fall blooming flowers like mums and asters.
  • Divide Iris.

Vegetable Garden Maintenance in July

  • Harvest daily. Some vegetables, like zucchini and cabbages, can mature in the blink of an eye. Don’t let them get tough or split open.
  • Find a Plant a Row for the Hungry program to donate your surplus vegetables to.
  • Succession plant bush beans and lettuce, to replace fading plants.
  • Start fall crops of peas and cole crops. Keep them well watered, until temperatures cool down.
  • Time to dig the garlic, onions and early season potatoes. Onion tops will fall over when they are ready to harvest. Garlic and potato plants will start to decline as they mature underground. Dig a few to test.
  • If your potatoes are not quite ready to harvest, treat yourself to some new potatoes. Carefully loosen the soil under your plants to find a few small potatoes to harvest.
  • Plant a cover crop in bare spots in the vegetable garden. It will feed the soil and keep weeds from moving in.

July Fruit Care

  • Check your berry bushes regularly to harvest before the birds get them. Birds will start munching on berries such as raspberries and blackberries even before they are fully ripe.

  • Clean up fallen fruits under trees. Rotting fruits are an invitation for diseases, insects, and foraging animals.
  • Check fruit trees for water sprouts (branches growing straight up from limbs) and remove them while they are small. They will only draw energy from the fruiting branches of the trees.

July Tree and Shrub Care

  • Prune summer flowering shrubs as soon as the blossoms fade. The plants will look better and they can store their energy rather than spend it developing seed.
  • Hold off on planting until the fall. It is too hot and dry in July for most plants to handle the stress of transplanting. The exception is potted plants that are struggling in their containers. If you must transplant, keep them well watered.

Pests to Watch For in July

  • Thrips (distorted flowers)
  • Spider mites (undersides of leaves)
  • Tomato fruitworm
  • Tomato horn worm
  • Chinch bugs in lawns
  • Japanese beetles.

July Gardening in Warmer Areas (USDA Zones 8 and Above)

  • It can be too hot to grow vegetables this month in many areas. If that’s the case, consider planting a quick cover crop, to feed the soil.
  • Your prime gardening season is coming up, especially in the vegetable garden. It time to start planning your fall garden.
  • Start seeds of heat loving vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, okra, eggplant, and cucumbers
  • It is still a good time of year to plant container grown citrus trees and tropical fruits.
  • Succession sow sunflowers (every 2 – 3 weeks) for a steady supply.

Special Garden Consideration for the Gulf Coast and Florida

  • Prepare for hurricane season and keep dead limbs pruned

How to Deal with Grass Fungal Diseases in Your Lawn

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Irregular patches of fungal disease in centipede grass lawn.

Lawn fungal diseases take on a variety of forms – from dead-looking brown patches to highly visible spots, threads, rings, or slimes. And once they strike your yard, grass fungal diseases can be difficult to treat.

Fortunately, the right lawn care practices can go a long way toward prevention and treatment; and in severe cases, a fungicide can help eradicate the spores to keep it from spreading. Here are some tips for preventing and treating fungal diseases in your lawn.

Mowing grass in yard with lawn mower

Mowing your grass too low can encourage fungal disease.

Causes of Lawn Fungal Disease

Your lawn is naturally full of fungi and spores, some harmless and some problematic, but the right (or wrong) conditions can cause grass fungus to erupt into a harmful disease. The most common causes of a lawn fungal disease are:

  • Drought
  • Improper mowing (especially mowing too low)
  • Compacted soil
  • Overwatering
  • Too much fertilizer (or using the wrong kind)
  • Wrong grass type for your yard
  • Weather conditions (particularly temperature and humidity)

How To Identify Lawn Fungal Diseases

Signs that your lawn may have a fungal disease include:

Brown patch of dead grass in lawn

Brown patch of dead grass in lawn.

  • White, yellow, or brown patches or rings that grow in diameter.
  • Thin patches of frayed, distorted, or discolored grass blades.
  • Gray, black, red, orange, or purple spots on blades or stems.
  • Gray, black, or pink powdery or threadlike coatings on and around grass blades.
  • Areas of darkened, wet-looking, slimy, or greasy-looking grass.

Common Lawn Fungal Diseases

There are quite a few fungal diseases that can impact lawns, but they’re usually pretty specialized, targeting specific lawn types, at certain times of year, under certain conditions. For example:

  • Brown patch strikes during hot, humid weather.
  • Fusarium blight prefers hot, drought conditions.
  • Dollar spot tends to spring up when nights are cool and dew is heavy.

Before treating your lawn, it’s important to identify not only whether your lawn indeed has a fungal disease, but to identify the fungus itself. All fungicides aren’t the same, and some diseases can be easily treated by making changes in your lawn care.

Knowing your grass type and recent weather conditions can make it easier to narrow down, but you may need help in figuring out exactly what’s going on. Your local cooperative extension center is your best resource for determining which diseases are most common in your area, or you can take a small baggie of the infected grass to your local garden center for help.

Using a fertilizer spreader to apply antifungal treatment to lawn

Applying an antifungal treatment may be necessary to treat severe cases.

How To Prevent and Treat Lawn Fungal Diseases

A simple change in your lawn care practices may be enough to prevent or eradicate lawn fungal disease. At other times nature may deliver a soggy spring or summer heat wave that just can’t be helped. Stressed or unhealthy lawns are much more likely to develop disease; so the better you care for your lawn, the better the grass will be able to handle the natural conditions in your area.

Follow these steps to help take control of fungal diseases in your lawn:

    • Soil Test: Conducting a soil test can not only identify nutrient deficiencies that lead to stressed lawns and disease but sometimes can be used to diagnose the disease itself. Check with your local cooperative extension office for more information.
    • Aerate: Loosen soil by aerating your lawn every year or two.
    • Top-Dress: Apply and rake in a layer of rich, organic top-dressing to improve the soil, increase drainage, and help combat disease.
    • Dethatch: Remove thick buildups of thatch in your lawn to allow the soil to breathe.

Sprinkler watering lawn.

Improper watering can lead to lawn fungus.

    • Grass Type: Rather than fighting nature to have an exotic lawn, choose a grass type that’s suited for your climate, soil, and light conditions. Well chosen lawns are stronger and able to fight off the normal fungal spores native to the area.
    • Go Organic: Synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and other lawn chemicals can upset your lawn’s ecosystem – allowing disease organisms to grow unchecked. Using organic materials helps keep your lawn in balance.
    • Fertilizing: Both over and under fertilizing can promote some fungal diseases. Choose organic, slow-release fertilizers for your lawn, and apply them exactly as instructed. Avoid excess nitrogen, which creates a fast green lawn with very poor defenses.
    • Watering: Water early in the morning, to allow the grass blades to dry during the day. Give your lawn one inch of water per week, and use a rain gauge to keep track. Water deeply, but less frequently, to encourage stronger roots and to allow the water to absorb properly.
    • Mowing: Follow good mowing practices, including keeping the mower blades sharp and mowing your lawn to the correct height. Scalped lawns are much more vulnerable to fungal disease. If your lawn has diseased patches, be sure to wash and disinfect the underside of your mower after each use.

Antifungal grass treatment for lawn.

  • Air Circulation: Many lawn fungi develop under moist, still conditions. Thin out trees and shrubs to allow air to circulate all over your lawn, and plant shade-tolerant grasses under trees.
  • Snow: Avoid walking on or compacting snow in your yard during the winter, since heavy snow layers can breed snow molds that emerge in spring.
  • Go Natural: If certain areas of your lawn are prone to fungal disease due to conditions you can’t change, consider naturalizing the area with groundcovers or flower beds that will be better suited to those conditions.
  • Organic Treatment: Applying organic treatments – such as neem oil, compost tea, or a weak baking soda solution – can help with small patches of fungus.
  • Fungicides: If all else fails, look for a fungicide (preferably organic) that’s rated specifically for your lawn disease. Fungicides won’t help your grass regrow, but they’ll get the fungal spores in check so that your improved lawn care practices can take effect.

Nothing Says Welcome Home Like An Entry Garden

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Nothing Says Welcome Like an Entry Garden

 

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Now is the time to start planning your entry garden. This welcoming patch has the power to set a warm and friendly tone for those who pass through your garden on the way to your front door. It does take some planning to set the proper mood, however, and you need to consider architecture, setting, scale, boundaries and maintenance.

Architecture and Setting

First, it is critical that your garden style suits your architecture and setting to create a cohesive, uniform look. Try to match the hardscaping and plants to the style and feel of your house. A cottage or farmhouse would be accentuated by a friendly, loose informal garden with plants spilling onto the walkway and colors blending together at the edges of beds. A more formal and symmetrical building, however, should be paired with a more structured garden that includes well-groomed shrubbery, stately flowers and a well-defined path.

Plant Scale

Pay attention to the scale of the plants you choose. Plants that will grow too tall or broad can overwhelm the house or crowd the walkway. Plants that are too small can make the house feel too large and unwelcoming. Investigate the mature sizes of plants and be sure they are positioned appropriately within your entry garden so they will not crowd one another or block key features of your home, such as house numbers or security lighting.

Garden Boundaries

Consider setting boundaries for the garden using a fence, wall, hedge or gate. The boundary could encompass just the area around the front door, might include a flowerbed border or could frame the whole yard, but keep in mind the size and style of your home. A white picket fence around the entire yard is a quaint option for a cottage-esque home, but would look out of place with an elegant brick manor, which would be more suited to a wrought iron boundary or classic boxwood hedges.

Maintaining Your Entry Garden

Be realistic about the amount of time you have to maintain your entry garden. If you have limited time, choose native or easy to care for plants that will require little attention. Also consider using containers for some of the plants. They can be easily rearranged throughout the seasons to give a different look to the garden, and plants can be brought in over the winter months. Keep in mind essential tasks such as weeding, pruning and watering, and plan the garden to suit your abilities, time and budget so you can always keep it in perfect condition to welcome visitors.

With a little planning, you can create a welcoming entry garden to beautifully greet guests as they visit your home.

Mother’s Day Is Here!

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Mother’s Day is celebrated all over the world to honor our Mothers, although the dates and months of Mother’s Day differ from country to country. Mother’s day is the occasion to pay rich tributes to the person who have had a great impact on our lives, a person whose love and care knows no boundaries, a person who does everything to keep her children happy and joyous.

Flowers are always a special gift to mothers around the world on Mother’s Day although no gift in the world even equals the services rendered by a mother to her child. Indeed no other gift serves better as the flowers do on the Mother’s Day to convey special thanks for all her love care for us.

Mother’s Day History

The earliest Mother’s Day celebrations can be traced back to the spring celebrations of ancient Greece in honor of Rhea, the Mother of the Gods. During the 1600’s, England celebrated a day called Mothering Sunday. Celebrated on the 4th Sunday of Lent (the 40 day period leading up to Easter), Mothering Sunday honored the mothers of England.

In the United States Mother’s Day was first suggested in 1872 by Julia Ward Howe (who wrote the words to the Battle hymn of the Republic) as a day dedicated to peace. Ms. Howe would hold organized Mother’s Day meetings in Boston, Mass ever year.

In 1907 Ana Jarvis, from Philadelphia, began a campaign to establish a national Mother’s Day. Jarvis persuaded her mother’s church in Grafton, West Virginia to celebrate Mother’s Day on the second anniversary of her mother’s death, the 2nd Sunday of May. By the next year Mother’s Day was also celebrated in Philadelphia. Ms. Jarvis and her supporters began to write to ministers, businessman, and politicians in their quest to establish a national Mother’s Day. It was successful as by 1911 Mother’s Day was celebrated in almost every state. President Woodrow Wilson, in 1914, made the official announcement proclaiming Mother’s Day as a national holiday that was to be held each year on the 2nd Sunday of May.

While many countries of the world celebrate their own Mother’s Day at different times throughout the year, there are some countries such as Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Australia, and Belgium which also celebrate Mother’s Day on the second Sunday of May.

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Jarvis is again the first person to consider flowers on Mother’s Day for gifting mothers. She sent 500 white carnations to the Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church, in Grafton, West Virginia with the hope of distributing the mothers. Then onwards, the tradition of sending flowers on Mother’s Day, took root.

The most common flowers for sending mother on the Mothers Day are carnations, especially white carnations. A bouquet of mature blooming roses also serve the great cause of thanking the mother for all her love and care. Flower arrangements made of spring flowers like tulips, scented narcissi and daffodils are also the favorites for sending on Mother’s Day.

If you are at a distance from your mother, you can send Mother’s Day flowers online. Still, it is appropriate to choose flowers from the online florists based on the meaning of the flowers being gifted and the personal likes and dislikes of our mother in terms of color and fragrance of flowers.