Proper Watering

Proper watering is crucial to a healthy lawn. The best time to water is early morning, when the sun starts to rise. You lose some water to evaporation in the middle of the day. And watering at night leaves the grass wet too long, which can cause fungus and other diseases in the summer.

Give your lawn 3/8 in. of water three times a week. Calculate the amount of time it takes your sprinkler to dispense that much water (Photo 5). Set a timer (sold at home centers and lawn and garden centers) on your hose spigot so you won’t have to watch the clock (Photo 6). Increase from 3/8 in. to 1/2 in. when the daytime temperatures are above 80 degrees F.
If you have bare spots in your lawn caused by your dog, sprinkle gypsum on the spot and saturate it with water (Photo 7). Plant new grass seed in the bare spots and keep it watered. Crabgrass will grow when the soil warms up to 55 degrees F so make sure to let Second Nature provide you with a golf course grade professional pre-emergent herbicide that way you prevent any growth from these pesky weedy grasses. ————————————————————————————————————————————

Let us help you this fall

Creating Kid Friendly Landscapes

Playing in the yard is a great source of childhood memories. Many parents want to create an experience in their yard that their children will treasure in later years. That starts with creating a safe environment that is also interesting and interactive.

Safe backyard checklist

• Remove debris piles where pests such as snakes, ticks, and spiders live.

• For young children, create a play area near the house or enclose the entire yard with a fence.

• Plant trees to create shaded areas where kids can play. Children are susceptible to heat stroke because they don’t remember to drink fluids or get out of the sun when they are too hot.

• Add security lights and ground lighting for pathways and patio areas for evening play.

• Make sure pool areas are fenced. (Check local town and county codes for requirements.)

• Check your yard for potentially poisonous plants (eg., Monkshood, Foxglove, Mountain Laurel, Privet, Lily of the Valley, Mayapple, and Daffodils) or thorny plants (eg., barberry, Pyracantha, evergreen holly or even needled evergreens like spruce and, in the west, various cacti and agaves) that can be hazardous to young children.

• Be aware of which flowering shrubs and perennials attract bees, and plant them away from sitting and play areas.

• Remember that any water feature, pool, or water element is of great interest to children. Make sure children are supervised.

Make the yard interesting and interactive for kids. Most kids love fast-growing plants (morning glory) as well as colorful plants (sunflowers) and fragrant plants (honeysuckles). Consider varieties that also can show the ever-changing environment in which they live by choosing plants that grow and change by season or temperature.

Bring wildlife into the yard. Many people plant butterfly bushes, Cardinal flower, Aesclepias, asters, Lavender and Black-Eyed Susan that attract butterflies or Monarda, Penstemon, Coral Bells, Daylilies, Summer Phlox, or Rose of Sharon that attract humming birds. Hanging a bird feeder or adding a bird bath will add interest for children. Water features, such as ponds, can be stocked with fish or frogs. Watching wildlife in the backyard is a great way for families to spend time appreciating nature and learning together.

Get children involved in caring for plants. Kids love to get their hands dirty, so planting trees and flowers and adding mulch is a great, directing activity and a learning experience as they care for them and watch them grow. Creating planters with tomatoes or herbs or planting a small vegetable garden is another great way to get kids interested in being in the yard.

Create play areas. For people with large enough yards, it is great to have an area with a sturdy variety of turfgrass on which kids can play a variety of sports. Installing pole supports into the ground is another great option for these areas. They make it easy to put up badminton or volleyball nets. Of course sandbox areas are a classic concept, but many people are also landscaping special areas for kids. Ideas include adding a path of pavers or stepping stones to a secret garden, or a special area with trees and benches. There are many options for outdoor game and sport flooring and artificial putting greens that can be fun and make it a family experience.
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Fleas and Ticks!


Fleas and Ticks are never fun to deal with, we have a flea and tick application that will help alleviate that issue and make your lawn a safe and fun place to relax! Let your technician know if that is a service you might be interested in because they could give you an estimate while they are there doing your normal scheduled applications. As for when you travel outside your lawn, make sure to use repellent and wear clothes that cover your skin! Here is a fun comic for both kids and adults to understand how fleas and ticks can ruin fun at camp!

Just click on the highlighted link below to see the comic!
  Fleas and Ticks

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How to Care for a Lawn in Middle Tennessee


Most lawns in Middle Tennessee are predominantly blends of tall fescue, a cool season turfgrass that, with proper care, will remain green and lush year-round. Most landscape managers and home gardeners work to free fescue lawns from everything else: pests, weeds and other types of grass. Assuming the turf is established, and a certain amount of chemical practices are acceptable, great lawn care is not out of reach. To keep a healthy, green fescue lawn in Middle Tennessee, understand four basic aspects of turf management.

Mowing

Beginning in late March, get the grass blades used to growing at the height you want them to be. Start by making sure the mower blades are sharp. The University of Tennessee Extension Service recommends setting blade height to about 2 to 3 inches from the ground. Mow in a back and forth pattern, to show off the ability of fescue grasses to reflect sunlight. Do this once per week through spring. As daytime temperatures rise through the summer, reduce mowing frequency if needed, and raise the mower deck to 4 or 5 inches to conserve moisture and nutrients.

Water Management

Most Middle Tennessee lawns get enough water from rain throughout the spring. Excessive irrigation will only invite disease problems. When summer heat begins to take its toll, begin a periodic watering routine in the morning hours. According to the University of Tennessee Extension Service, “A key to effective watering is to irrigate deeply, to a 4- to 6-inch soil depth, and infrequently. Actively growing fescues usually require from 1 to 1 1/2 inches of water each week.” If you have an automatic irrigation system, set each spray zone to water three times per week, 10 minutes at a time. Set rotor heads to run 20 minutes a piece.

Fertilization and Weed Control

Good mowing and water management practices will help to keep fungal diseases away from Middle Tennessee fescue lawns. Keep an eye out for discolorations in your turf, however, as these may be signs of disease problems. To prevent and control weeds, incorporate herbicides into your fertilization program. Fertilize once in early spring and again late in the season with a high nitrogen, general lawn fertilizer containing both a pre-emergent and post-emergent weed control. This will rid the lawn of existing broadleaf weeds and prevent future crabgrass growth. Apply a low-nitrogen fertilizer in summer, combined with a post-emergent weed control. Do not use a crabgrass preventing herbicide, for it will hamper seeding efforts later on. Put down a winterizing fertilizer high in phosphorus in mid-November to promote root growth during the dormant months. Follow product label instructions properly with each application.

Aerating and Overseeding

The hot summers of Middle Tennessee tend to thin out fescue lawns, while foot traffic and tree roots compact the soil and restrict air and water flow. Repair this by aerating and over-seeding the lawn in mid-October. Unwanted Bermudagrass and other grass-weeds will soon turn brown and go dormant. Take the opportunity in mid-fall to kill these off. Spray patches with a non-selective liquid herbicide, such as Roundup. Use a walk-behind or tractor-pulled aerator to pull cores from the soil, back and forth, as in a mowing pattern. Seed the lawn at a light rate, being careful to keep grass seed out of landscape beds. Follow with an application of a starter lawn fertilizer, generally containing only nitrogen. Keep the lawn watered until new grass blades begin to emerge.
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April is National Lawn Care Month!



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Caring for Trees



Whether you plant very small trees and nurture them for years or have large trees installed, you are making an emotional and financial investment you want to protect. Trees add shade for your family and provide cooling in the summer, and they greatly increase your curb appeal and add value to your home. How can you best take care of your trees?

Pruning—Pruning maintains tree health by removing dead or dying branches and shaping trees for appealing growth. Once the decision has been made to prune, your next decision is whether or not to tackle the job yourself. For small pruning jobs, it is important to prune the unwanted branch while protecting the stem or trunk of the tree. In the case of a large tree where you want to remove big branches in the upper area of the crown, it may be best to hire trained and experienced professionals. Large tree pruning, in particular, can require climbing and additional equipment. Never sacrifice personal safety to prune a tree.

Watering—The amount of watering you need to do depends on your climate and rainfall. Newly planted trees expend a lot of energy trying to get their roots established in the soil during the first few growing seasons, so they need water and mulch to ensure they are receiving enough moisture. Existing trees also need proper watering. Too little and too much water can both be detrimental to tree health. Your soil should be moist when watering, not soggy.

Mulch—Mulching around tree bases helps retain soil moisture, cool the soil and roots, keep weeds at bay, prevent soil compaction and reduce lawn mower damage to roots or trunks. Strive for a 3- to 10-foot mulch area around the tree (depending on tree size) and a 2- to 4-inch mulch depth. Remember to keep the mulch from directly touching the tree trunk.

Fertilizing—Fertilizing provides trees with nutrients that help it grow and fight pests. The type of fertilizer you need depends on your soil. You can have your soil tested to determine what nutrients are lacking.

Pest Problems—Trees, especially those that are old or weakened by disease, are susceptible to pests. If you think your tree is diseased, contact a professional arborist to assess your tree’s health and suggest a treatment plan.

Lightning Protection—Certain tree species may be more or less susceptible to damage by lightning because of their unique characteristics. If you want to protect historic or valuable trees, consider having a professional arborist install a lightning protection system


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Myths vs. reality: How to get your lawn in top shape this spring

"Father and Son Lawn" Have you ever wondered when the right time to apply fertilizer to your yard is or whether it’s ok to cut the grass really short?

Myth #1: You can water your lawn and landscape any time of day.

  • Reality: Water is a valuable resource; make every drop count! Watering the lawn in the early mornings or evenings after sunset minimizes evaporation. It’s the best time for water to penetrate deep into the soil.

Myth #2: It’s ok to cut the grass very short.

  • Reality: Most landscape professionals advise against cutting more than one-third of the grass leaf at a time. Mowing at a finished cut height of 3 to 3.5 inches throughout the summer is generally recommended. The lawn will need less water, will be more resistant to weeds and will have a deeper, greener color. Use a sharp mower blade to prevent tearing grass blades. A crisp and clean cut will help prevent a “brown tip” appearance.

Myth #3: It’s best to water your lawn every day.

  • Reality: Watering your lawn every three days is better than daily watering. Deep, rather than shallow watering of your lawn is recommended to nurture the roots. An inch of water to 12 inches of soil is the preferred ratio for watering actively growing grass.

Myth #4: If you want to replace your lawn, you should do it in the spring when plants get ready to bloom.

  • Reality: The best time to sow seed is in the late summer and early fall when the temperatures are more consistent and when highly competitive weeds, like crabgrass, are at the end of their life cycle.

Myth #5: Early spring is the best time to fertilize the lawn.

  • Reality: Since different species of grass prefer nutrients at different times of the year, be sure to use the correct fertilizer, at the right rate, at the right time, and in the right place. A slow-release fertilizer allows for more even and consistent feeding over a longer period of time than a quick-release fertilizer. And, remember to use fertilizers responsibly by cleaning up any that lands on streets, sidewalks or driveways where they can be washed into lakes, ponds, rivers and streams.

Myth #6: A garden hose is more cost efficient than installing an irrigation system.

  • Reality: Many landscape professionals recommend installing an irrigation system with smart controllers which have sensors that water when needed. Smart irrigation can offer a cost savings of 15–20 percent on water bills. Converting irrigation spray nozzles from sprinklers to rotating nozzles will spread heavy droplets of water at a slower pace, which makes them more targeted and effective.

Myth #7: You have to irrigate to have a healthy and beautiful lawn.

  • Reality: Grasses are built to endure long periods of drought by entering a state of dormancy..  When temperatures and moisture levels are at their extreme, the growing point of the grass plant, the crown, will shut off the grass blades, turning them brow. In almost all instances, once the heat and drought stresses have gone, the crowns will begin to send up new shoots. There’s nothing wrong with irrigating to avoid dormancy, but “embracing the brown” for a couple of weeks in the summer is just fine too.

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Getting the Jump on Crabgrass


Ben Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” That applies to lots of things in life, including your lawn. An important part of getting a lush, green lawn in the spring is getting the jump on weeds before they germinate. This is especially true of crabgrass. Crabgrass spreads quickly during the warm summer months. Between midsummer and early fall, each plant produces thousands of seeds. The first frost kills the plants, but the seeds remain dormant though the winter. When the ground temperature warms up, the seeds begin to grow.

Pre-emergent weed control establishes a chemical barrier that will not kill establish plants, but will prevent weeds from successfully growing. Because the protective barrier breaks down in six to eight weeks, use of pre-emergent requires proper time to be effective.

SOME THING TO REMEMBER ABOUT THE USE OF PRE-EMERGENTS:



• Timing is essential. Application times depend on your area’s weather patterns. A warmer than usual winter means you’ll probably need to apply the herbicide earlier than usual.

• Crabgrass begins to germinate when the soil temperature has consistently (at least five consecutive nights) stayed above 52-54 degrees. Warm nights and periods of rainfall encourage crabgrass germination.

• For newly seeded lawns, your lawn should be mowed three times before the herbicide is applied to avoid harming the new grass seedlings.

• Proper application of pre-emergent is important because crabgrass can get established in one area and then spread though out the lawn.

• Do not de-thatch or aerate the lawn after applying the herbicide. Doing so may break the chemical barrier of the herbicide.

• Wait two to four months to re-seed the lawn after using a pre-emergent herbicide.

• Do not use a pre-emergent herbicide if crabgrass is already in the lawn or if you have just installed sod.

Follow ‘ol Ben Franklin’s advice: take care of annual grassy weeds like crabgrass early, and enjoy a healthier lawn.



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What is Integrated Pest Management?

Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, is an effective and economical approach to controlling most lawn and landscape pest problems that combines a wide range of proven pest control tactics.

IPM is a more environmentally friendly approach to pest control than traditional œspray everything  methods. Even though IPM does include the careful and targeted use of pesticides, these treatments are applied only when and where insects or diseases have become a problem.

It doesn’t make sense to try to be completely pest-free. Besides being almost impossible to achieve, the œeradication  approach requires a lot more pesticides. It almost always destroys insects and bacteria that are beneficial and even essential for good, long-term plant health.

Instead, we strive for pest control that is intelligent, efficient, economical and balanced. In addition to using good cultural practices (in watering, mowing, pruning, etc.), the basic components of IPM include:

PREVENTION: Selecting plants that normally do well in the area gives them a big advantage in naturally resisting pest invasions and damage.

INSPECTION: Scheduled visits to check for brown patches, wilted plants, other signs of damage and actual pest presence.

IDENTIFICATION: Once a pest or its damage is found, we have to be sure we know what kind it is. There are thousands of insect varieties, and many are beneficial. This step can be easy or hard. Grubs are easy to spot, while diseases can be a real puzzle. Good identification is the essential first step to good control.

TREATMENT: When treatment is necessary, we encourage you to use all of the tools available, including watering, good mowing habits and aeration (which opens the soil and thatch layer). If a large and damaging population of insects is present, control treatments will also be recommended.

EVALUATION: With your help, we check how effective our program has been and decide if additional, or possibly different, efforts might be needed.

Because it keeps plants healthier with fewer chemicals, IPM is the most environmentally sound approach to professional pest management.

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