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Landscape maintenance isn’t a one-shot deal. Just as homes need to be repainted and maintained, so do landscapes need to be managed. Plants grow and die. Weeds inevitably crop up, insect pests may invade, and the weather may change.
Below are brief synopses of some of the services we provide that will keep your lawn in peak condition.
Landscape Maintenance – Weed Control
The best weed control plan focuses on prevention, followed by direct action against any weeds that break through your defenses. Performance Lawn and Landscape can help you maintain a healthy lawn that is weed resistant.
Grasses and Sedges
Weed grasses are usually bunchy or upright plants with barely noticeable flowers and round or flattened hollow stems, according to North Carolina is State University TurfFiles Center. Their leaves grow in groups of two, and are considerably longer than they are wide. In contrast, sedges’ stems are always triangular and solid and their leaves grow in groups of three. Rough bluegrass and carpetgrass are examples of grassy weeds affecting North Carolina; kyllinga and nutsedge are sedge weeds.
Broadleaf weeds are diverse; they grow upright, parallel to the ground or in a vining pattern. Their leaves are usually wider than long, their stems are square or round and they often have showy flowers. Examples of broad leaf weeds effecting North Carolina include hairy bittercress and carpetweed.
While herbicides are generally effective against North Carolina lawn weeds, the North Carolina State University TurfFiles Center advises herbicides should be a short-term solution while figuring out the underlying problems that lead to the weeds. Keeping lawns vigorously growing and addressing soil imbalances helps. Poorly growing areas can be a particular problem, as light penetrates directly to the soil here, making weeds more likely.
Performance Lawn and Landscape recommends that you fertilize four times a year if you want to nurture thick, dense grass that resists disease and weed invasions.
If a thick, green, beautiful weed-free lawn is your goal then you are going to need to apply some type of fertilizer. It is a very simple process once you determine the proper type of fertilizer you need for the type of grass you have in your lawn.
Performance Lawn and Landscape is happy to provide this information as a service to you.
Fertilizer is available in two types – liquid and granular. Choose the one that meets your lawn’s needs in the form that is easiest for you to use.
* Liquid fertilizers are fast-acting. Since they are quickly absorbed, they require application every 2-3 weeks. Most are mixed with water prior to application with a garden hose attachment.
* Granular fertilizers are applied with a spreader and must be watered into the grass. Granular fertilizers are easier to control because you can actually see how much fertilizer you are using and where it is being dispersed.
Granular fertilizers are produced in two different formulations, quick-release and slow-release.
Quick-release fertilizer typically lasts for three to four weeks, depending upon the temperature and the amount of rainfall. For general use, these water-soluble nitrogen fertilizers (WSN) are also known as commodity or field grade fertilizers.
There are two main types of slow-release fertilizers, know as water-insoluble nitrogen (WIN), available for specific applications.
* Sulfur coated, which lasts for about 8 weeks.
* Polymer coated, lasting about 12 weeks.
Both time estimates may vary depending upon the amount of rainfall. To avoid unwanted growth stimulation, do not apply slow-release fertilizer late in the growing season.
* Organic fertilizers are available as well. Processed organic fertilizers include compost, bloodmeal, bone meal, humic acid, amino acids, and seaweed extracts. Other examples are natural enzyme-digested proteins, fish meal, and feather meal. Decomposing crop residue (green manure) from prior years is another source of fertility. Naturally occurring organic fertilizers include manure, slurry, worm castings, peat, seaweed, humic acid, and guano.
By their nature, organic fertilizers increase physical and biological nutrient storage mechanisms in soils, mitigating risks of over-fertilization. Organic fertilizer nutrient content, solubility, and nutrient release rates are typically much lower than mineral (inorganic) fertilizers.
Please contact us for more information about how you may benefit from an organic program.
Core Aeration – Seasoned Landscape Maintenance
Aeration is the process of mechanically removing small plugs of thatch and soil from a lawn to improve soil structure and reduce compaction. It nurtures lawns that are healthier and easier to maintain.
The process of soil aeration involves breaking up larger fragments of soil into smaller pieces. Large fragments of soil have the ability to retain water as well as nutrients, which can make it difficult for certain types of plants and even grass to row. Aeration allows soil to properly drain water, In addition, it allows certain insects like worms more space to allow your lawn or garden go through its natural growing process.
A core aerator is a mechanical device with pieces of metal on the bottom called “tines.” A core aerator is its own piece of equipment, with a handle that you hold as you push the device and tines on the bottom beneath a main base.
As you move the core aerator across your lawn, it makes a series of holes by extracting the soil using the tines. This leaves the surface of your lawn intact, but still allows the aeration process to benefit your lawn.
Core aerators are typically used prior to starting a new lawn for the year or on a grassy area that has already been established.
This practice is used on fescue lawns to encourage healthier turf. Without overseeding, fescue lawns often suffer due to extreme heat.
There are many different tupes of grasses to plant, and you want a grass seed that will produce a hardy, perennial lawn. Your primary consideration is your regional climate. Before purchasing grass seed, read the label to be sure the seed has been packaged for less than 10 months and to find out if the seed is one variety, a blend or a mix.
Grass seed blends will include a mix of grasses of the same variety. For example, a blend may include different types of fescue seed. There are also seed mixes, in which seeds from a variety of different grasses are packaged together. Although a blend offers diversity within one type of grass species, a mix offers a more genetic diversity. Blends and mixes both offer differing germination periods, resistance to diseases and weeds and a degree of adaptability.
Grass seed should be planted in either the earl spring or the fall. After choosing the appropriate grass seed for your conditions (region and sun vs. shade), spread the seed using a lawn spreader. Carefully cover the seeds by raking a thin layer of soil over the seeds. Water with a fine spray and keep the lawn moist, but not saturated, until the new grass is 2″ in height. This may require daily watering.
Grass seed is broadcast across a large area to create a lawn. The seed is applied directly to the soil, takes root and propagates. Some grass lawns go dormant in extreme weather conditions, such as harsh winters or extreme heat. You want a grass seed that is indigenous, or at least adaptable, to your region and that will “green up” after dormancy.
There are many different types of grass seed, but grass can be grouped into two types: warm-weather grass and cool-weather grass. Warm-weather grass seed includes Bermuda, centipede, carpetgrass, bahia, St. Augustine and zoysia. These are creeping grasses. They send out runners parallel to the ground that take root.
Cool-weather grass seed types include bentgrass, bluegrass, fescue and rye grass. These are bunching grasses that propagate through the crown at the base of the grass. It forms new seed and continues to grow in bunches.
Choose a grass seed, seed blend or mix that is suitable to your regional climate. Throughout the South and Southwest regions of the United States, Bermuda grass is recommended because it is drought tolerant. Fescues do well in cooler climates. They stay green throughout the colder months and are resistant to drought.
Tree and Shrub Pruning
If the bushes in your foundation plantings are overgrown, you may have the urge to start hacking away at them. But before you haphazardly attack that lopsided hydrangea devouring your front walk or the rhododendron obscuring your windows, familiarize yourself with some of the basic information on pruning shrubs. This brief introduction will point you in the right direction.
Begin by pruning away dead or damaged branches with a pruning shear, lopper or a saw. Your tools should be sharp enough to leave a straight, clear cut, with no ragged edges. Consider using anvil pruners and bypass loppers, which allow even smaller hands to cut branches up to 1 1/2″ thick. You’ll need a small powered chain saw, a wood saw or metal hacksaw for thicker branches and trunks.
Prune just above what’s known as the “branch collar,” that little ring of bumpy tissue at the junction of a branch and main trunk. Why? The bumpy area is rich with plant growth cells. Leaving the collar intact gives your shrub a better chance to callous over and recover from your surgery.
Always cut branches on a slant, at a 45-degree angle. Why? A flat-topped cut may cradle water when it rains, inviting fungus or disease. Rainwater slides off a slanted cut.
For a natural look, use the technique known as “heading back.” Eyeball the bush and locate the tallest main branch. With your eye and hand, follow this main branch until it meets a lower side branch that more or less points upwards. Cut the main branch off just above the smaller one. Repeat the process with this and all main branches, stepping back now and then — maybe even across the street — to assess the results. Prune slightly lower down than you feel really comfortable with; remember, new growth will add additional height over the next six months.
For a major overhaul — removing 10′ or more from a bush — use a saw on the main trunks, removing only a third of the height at each pass to prevent accidents.
Conifers and needle evergreens, such as juniper, cypress, pine, and ceader are best pruned back in stages. Start in late autumn or early winter, and use your cuttings for holiday decorations. The following spring, after you see the first hints of new growth emerging from your previous cuts, prune again to further reduce the height of evergreen shrubbery. Needle evergreens are tricky: If you prune below green growth, a branch may never again sprout.
Rejuvenate fan-shaped deciuoius bushes such as forsythia, lilacs and bush-form roses by cutting back a third of all branches right down to the ground each year.
For bushes in foundation plantings, prune away any branches rubbing against the house or wall. Your neighbors won’t see the plant’s backside, so feel free to cut back for 8 inches to 12 inches of clearance. This improves air circulation around the back branches and ultimately results in a healthier bush.
Do you need to cover the cuts with tree paint or wax? No. If you have made a good, angled cut at the proper time, each species will safely heal its wounds without damage from frost, insects or disease. And when is the proper time? For needle evergreens, the winter dormant period.
Mulch – More Landscape Maintenance
Mulch is an organic material that is commonly spread across gardens and flower beds, where it pays many dividends. Mulch helps conserve soil moisture, prevent erosion, suppress weed growth and serve as an effective insulator against temperature extremes, from summer heat to winter freezes.
In addition, mulch releases valuable nutrients into the soil as it decomposes and can even add an attractive background for various plants, from ornamental flowers to trees.
Benefits of mulching
When applied correctly, mulch has the following beneficial effects on plants and soil:
- Mulches prevent loss of water from the soil by evaporation.
- Mulches reduce the growth of weeds, when the mulch material itself is weed-free and applied deeply enough to prevent weed germination or to smother existing weeds.
- Mulches keep the soil cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, thus maintaining a more even soil temperature.
- Mulches prevent soil splashing, which not only stops erosion but keeps soil-borne diseases from splashing up onto the plants.
- Organic mulches can improve the soil structure. As the mulch decays, the material becomes topsoil. Decaying mulch also adds nutrients to the soil.
- Mulches prevent crusting of the soil surface, thus improving the absorption and movement of water into the soil.
- Mulches prevent the trunks of trees and shrubs from damage by lawn equipment.
- Mulches help prevent soil compaction.
- Mulches can add to the beauty of the landscape by providing a cover of uniform color and interesting texture to the surface.
- Mulched plants have more roots than plants that are not mulched, because mulched plants will produce additional roots in the mulch that surrounds them.
Where to mulch
Mulching is a very important practice for establishing new plantings, because it helps to conserve moisture in the root ball of the new plant until the roots have grown out into the surrounding soil.
The growth rate and health of trees and shrubs increases when there is no competition for water and nutrients from weeds. Mulch also helps to prevent tree trunk injury by mowers and trimmers. Mulch entire beds of shrubs, trees, annuals, herbaceous perennials and ground covers. Mulch can also be used to cover trails, driveways, and play and natural areas.
When and how often to mulch
The best time to mulch new plantings is right after you plant them. Around established plants mulch is best applied in early spring. This is when plants are beginning to grow and before weed seeds start to germinate.
How deep to apply mulch
The amount of mulch to apply depends on the texture and density of the mulch material. Many wood and bark mulches are composed of fine particles and should not be more than 2 to 3 inches deep. Excessive amounts of these fine-textured mulches can suffocate plant roots, resulting in yellowing of the leaves and poor growth. Coarse-textured mulches such as pine bark nuggets allow good air movement through them and can be as deep as 4 inches.
Pine Needles are another form of mulch. All the benefits associated with mulching as described in the section on mulch apply to pine needle applications as well.
|Long Leaf Pine Straw
This Type Of Product Has A Deep Rich Auburn Appearance, Along With A Waxy Finish, That Allows For Long Durability.Long Leaf Is The Preferred Choice For Professional Landscapers In The Southeast.
The Needles Range From 8” – 14” In Length.
This Type Of Product Has A Golden-Yellowish Appearance And Contains Nutrients Desired By Newly Seeded Lawns.It Is Typically Hand Spread Or Blown By A Machine To Help With Erosion Or Seeding.
Flowers add a nice touch of color to lawns and homes. With their varying growth cycles and blooming seasons, strategically designed flower beds can provide an ever changing display of beauty.
Home lawn sprinklers vary widely in their size, cost, and complexity. They include impact sprinklers, oscillating sprinklers, drip sprinklers, and underground sprinkler systems. Small sprinklers are available at home and garden stores or hardware stores for small costs. These are often attached to an outdoor water faucet and are placed only temporarily. Other systems may be professionally installed permanently in the ground and are attached permanently to a home’s plumbing system.
Permanently installed systems may often operate on timers or other automated processes. They are occasionally installed with retractable heads for aesthetic and practical reasons (making damage during lawn mowing or other maintenance less likely). These often are programed to operate at certain times of day or on some other schedule.