Take these winter steps give hope for next year

The dry, hot summer has many lawns looking rough as we head into winter.

While it might seem easiest to throw in the towel, proclaim defeat and try again next spring, the best time to prepare your lawn to look its best next year is now.
Seeding, fertilizing and weeding in the fall help ensure healthy root development before winter hits — and let your yard thrive the following summer.

“Anything you can do in the fall will help that plant be healthier next year,” said Steve Fine, of Signature Landscapes. “You will get substantially more root development in your turf. If you wait until spring, you just won’t have time to develop that root system.”

Beginning in September, homeowners should:

  • Make sure your lawn is getting enough water. Most lawns need an inch to 11/2 inches of water each week. Place a rain gauge or straight-edged container, such as a tuna can or drinking glass, under your sprinkler to determine how long you need to water. When it has an inch to 11/2 inches of water, you know you’re done.
  • Apply fertilizer before the first frost. This will help provide your lawn with enough nutrients to survive the winter. “Fall fertilization is much more important than a spring fertilizer,” Fine said. “It can never catch up in the spring.”
  • Aerate your lawn. Aeration lets air, moisture and fertilizer travel to the roots more efficiently. “It should be aerated three or four times in different directions before you overseed,” said Tim Scott, Signature’s residential manager. “Our clay soil, which doesn’t have nearly enough air or water and doesn’t have the capacity to hold it. The key to (successful) seeding is having soil contact with the seed.”
  • Overseed your lawn when necessary. If your lawn has bare spots larger than a softball, seed those areas from early September through mid-October. Thin grass promotes weed growth. “It’s important to get seeding done in early September so that grass has plenty of time to germinate, develop a root system and establish before winter,” Scott said.
  • Kill the weeds. Apply a broadleaf weed killer in the fall to minimize weed growth in the spring. “October is a great time to get good weed control going into next year,” Fine said. “Weeds eliminated in the fall won’t come back in the spring.”
  • Continue to mow. Keep the blade at its highest setting and mow until around mid-November. Leaving the grass about 3 inches tall helps promote strong turf and reduces weed growth. Be sure to rake up leaves from your lawn quickly, so water and nutrients can penetrate the ground and reach the grass roots.

While many homeowners like to work in their yards, hiring a professional can help ensure good results. Many companies offer a free analysis of your lawn, and you can work together to come up with a plan that’s best for your situation.

“The biggest advantage with a professional is that they will have timely applications, using the correct products at the correct time and using the products correctly,” Fine said.

Extend your outdoor living this season

Nice weather this week has been a reminder that fall can be glorious in Northern Nevada. There are many great days ahead to enjoy outdoor living even when there’s a chill in the air.

The key to extending outdoor enjoyment beyond the balmy days of summer is as simple as the using the elements of fire and light.


Start a fire!

Staying warm on a chilling fall afternoon is as easy as striking a match in a wood-burning fire pit. A cozy fire brings people together, prolongs a good conversation and adds ambiance to a glass of wine or a bottle of beer. For kids and teens, it’s one more campfire and round of s’mores to enjoy.

Plus, the old-fashioned fire pit is a good way to test drive whether you want a more permanent fixture with less maintenance and no smoke. Out-of-the-box propane models can be embellished to look like custom work that matches other outdoor features in your yard. Or you can create a permanent feature encircled in stone or even a standing fireplace complete with a hearth and chimney. However you make it happen, taking the chill off the air makes the outdoors livable well into the fall.

» Learn about Signature Landscapes fire pit installations.

Turn on the lights

The sun is setting earlier and it will soon be time to turn the clocks back. Since no one likes moving around or sitting in the dark, the darkness alone chases us indoors. On the other hand, lighting up pathways and outdoor living areas keeps outdoor living areas inviting.

There are several benefits to outdoor lighting, especially LED lighting:

  • It is relatively easy to install any time of year
  • LED lighting uses minimal power
  • LED lights are low maintenance because bulb replacements are few and far between

Adding warmth and light are both strategic outdoor projects to tackle in the off-season.

Outdoor lighting also ups the safety factor around your home. If you decide more fire and light are in order, these can be fast-track fall upgrades that won’t interfere with your landscape during the growing season.

This weekend, get outside to kick through the leaves, light a fire and keep enjoying the outdoor season as long as you can.

Fall Cleanup is Coming: Leaves

Clear leaves and cut back ornamental grasses as an important first step to your fall prep.

Fallen leaves and debris from uncut ornamental grasses, perennials and flowering shrubs can smother and kill turf.

Perennials, which can have a woody stalk or stem left after the blossom fades, should be trimmed back to both promote the plant’s health and maintain a neat appearance.

And remember, bugs that love the outside during the summer usually move indoors when winter hits. They want to be cozy and warm too.

Whether you own a home or live in a managed association, taking care of leaves will keep your home looking good on the outside and bug free on the inside.

 

Let’s get planting!

At last, spring really is just around the corner and it’s about time to plant the first seeds of this year’s garden.

Depending on the altitude and whether you have a warm southern exposure, you could get outside and plant as early as next weekend

Here’s what you need:

  • Soil that’s warm enough to till – such as a southern exposure. The south side of a building that provides reflected heat will warm up for planting sooner than other areas of a yard.
  • A cultivating tool to even out the soil.
  • Soil that was composted and tilled last fall – or compost to till in now to prep the soil.
  • Seed packets or seed tape which is a strip of paper with seeds placed along along it. Using the tape guarantees a straight row of plants.

What can you plant early?

  • Green Onions
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Radishes
  • Carrotts
  • Peas

Once planted, all of these seeds will stay in the soil quietly waiting to germinate. Some will germinate at a soil temp of about 40-45 degrees and others may need a bit warmer temperature. The good news is that the seeds can sit still in the soil until conditions are right.

Snow and frost shouldn’t bother them and snow will give the soil needed moisture. If there’s no precipitation after planting, watch the soil and if it dries out, be ready to water.

If you’d like to add improvements to your garden irrigation system, call Tina, our Installation Coordinator to schedule a free consultation. We’ll make sure your garden will grow healthy and hearty with a simple to manage watering system. Call Tina at (775) 857-4333.

Vegetable-GardeningDepending on the weather, your veggies should be ready to harvest sometime between the end of April and early May. Then it will almost be time to plant the warmer season crops.

If you want to extend the growing season, you can do what commercial growers do and place strips of black plastic about 18 inches wide on top of the soil. On sunny days, the plastic will absorb heat and bring up the soil temperature faster than if left alone. At higher altitudes where the growing season is even shorter than along the Sierra, this procedure can give an earlier start to the growing season.

When it’s time to plant, simply poke holes in the plastic and install the plants. This procedure is especially good for warm season crops like tomatoes, egg plant and peppers. Using walls of water – the plastic towers filled with water – around plants will also add to the warmth and help protect tender plants against frost damage.

Salt & Ice-Melt Can Damage Your Property

One of the most frequently asked questions our crews will get during the winter is whether or not ice melt will hurt my yard?

Glad you asked! As the freezing and thawing of snow over sidewalks occurs, please keep in mind ice melt will indeed cause damage lawns and other sensitive plants if it’s not properly installed. To prevent long term injury, sidewalks and driveways should be cleared and snow tossed back far enough so when it melts, it does not melt over the top of the concrete and then freeze again the next night. This will prevent reapplication of salt to the same areas over and over and put less salt filled runoff into the yard right off the concrete surfaces.

Keep in mind salt is toxic to plants when it dissolves in water. Rock salt absorbs the water that would normally be used by roots. Roots dehydrate and plants are stressed. Salt reduces the cold hardiness of plants, making them even more susceptible to frost damage. 

Here are a few tips to keep your plants safe and your sidewalks and driveways clear:

  • Don’t over-salt! Follow label directions precisely.
  • Avoid using rock salt in extreme cold. Salt is most effective at temperatures just below the freezing point. 
  • De-icing agents with calcium-chloride, or calcium magnesium acetate, are salt-free and should be used in extreme cold.
  • Also, in extreme cold, sprinkle water lightly over the surface before you apply the ice melt for better results.
  • Erect barriers with plastic fencing, burlap or snow fencing to protect sensitive plants.
  • For plants that do get sprayed by salt, use a broom and lightly brush salt off of the plants. You may not see the damage to plants and trees by salt or ice melt until spring.
  • Shovel ice and snow as soon as possible, and try to keep sidewalks and paths clear to avoid re-applying.

 

A Green Christmas Tree – How Green Is It?

This year, the gap between Thanksgiving and traditional Christmas is a narrow one. Many of us will be hauling out the holiday décor even before we get into turkey day leftovers.

Before you hang the wreath or follow-up on that deal of the week to buy the pre-lit tree, think about greener options that might work for you this year.

Natural or artificial tree?

Cutting down a perfectly shaped Christmas tree to deck out for two weeks and then send to the trash heap sounds like an insult to Mother Nature. Isn’t it logical that using the same artificial tree year in and year out saves trees, keeps debris out of the landfill and is the best way to live green at the holidays? Compelling logic, but there’s more to the story.

Need help with holiday lights or other seasonal landscape chores? Enjoy a professional holiday decoration consultation with our brilliant experts at Christmas Decor! Call us at (775) 827-5296 or visit our Virtual Holiday Showroom at http://www.christmasdecorreno.com


While a pre-lit tree is tempting, you will go greener with a real tree. Here’s why:

  • An artificial tree must be used for 20 years to have a lower carbon footprint than a natural tree.
  • Grown trees produce oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide the entire time they are growing.
  • One acre of Christmas trees on a farm produces enough oxygen to support 18 people.
  • Trees from tree farms are grown sustainably – for every tree cut down, 2 to 3 more seedlings are planted.
  • Natural trees are recycled by most cities, so they don’t have to end up in the landfill. They are ground into mulch that is used for hiking trails, gardens and other purposes.

Tips for selecting and caring for a natural tree:

  • Pinch and sniff. Pinch a needle to check for freshness. When you smell a rich fragrance, that’s the sign of a fresh tree.
  • Remove a needle and bend it. If it snaps like a carrot, the tree is fresh.
  • Before putting the tree in a stand, cut off at least an inch at the base of the trunk. This new cut will allow the tree to absorb water.
  • Water regularly. The stand for large trees should hold at least one gallon of water. Check the stand daily and refill the water to keep the tree fresh.

Sustainable lighting for trees and garlands
A natural tree doesn’t always work for everyone. So if you still need to get the most out of the artificial tree you already have, make your sustainable step this year to replace worn-out lights with the new LEDs.

Here are good reasons to replace worn out lights with LEDs:

  • Safety: LED lights do not get hot like conventional lights to create a fire hazard or scorch plants.
  • Fewer outlets required: You can string a few dozen strands of LEDS end to end and plug the whole line into one extension cord connected to one power outlet without blowing the circuit.
  • Less power: LEDs use up to 90% less power than conventional holiday lights.
  • Longer life: LEDs last 4-5 times longer than conventional lights.
  • Sustainable facts: LEDs require less energy and because they need to be replaced less often, less material is used over the long term.

 

 

Avoid ‘Brown Patch” on Turf this Summer

Spotting Brown Patch

Brown patch symptoms can vary depending on the grass variety, the soil as well as climate. Once it takes hold, the disease can spread quickly and begins to appear with 24 – 36 hours after infection. In the early morning on close cut turfgrasses, a dark smoky ring may appear at the periphery of the patch. This smoky ring transforms as the day progresses into a uniformly light brown or straw color.

Typically, brown patch causes rings or patches of blighted grass that measure from 5″ to more than 10′ in diameter. It also causes leaf spots and thin rings with brown borders around the diseased patches. Under close examination of the blades, irregular spots may be noticed that is bordered by a darker margin.

brown patch rottingAfter the leaves die in the blighted area, new leaves can emerge from the surviving crowns. On wide-bladed species, leaf lesions develop with tan centers and dark brown to black margins.

Brown patch favors high humidity and temperatures over 85 degrees during the day and not below 65 at night. On warm season grasses, this disease can be very active in the spring and fall. It also occurs in areas that receive more than 10 hours a day of wetness for consecutive days.

Brown patch infestation is more severe when the grass is cut to a height less than the optimum for the variety of grass.

Prevention

The best prevention for brown patch is to aerate often, reduce shade to effected areas, and follow a fertilization schedule to help prevent fertilization with excess amounts of nitrogen. Avoid irrigating late in the day. Do not over-fertilize.

Treatment

The most common fungicides used on Brown Patch are: benomyl, and chlorothalonil. The brown patch fungus will survive in thatch and turf debris between periods of activity. Chemical controls are available, but should only be applied by licensed applicators. Contact your local lawn care provider for additional information.

Lawn Diseases are Easier to Prevent than to Cure

Here are a few ways we can work together to keep some lawn diseases out of your lawn:

  • Signature Landscapes’ lawn fertilization program controls unhealthy bursts of turf growth that can attract disease.
  • Regular core aeration helps nutrients and water reach roots and breaks up thatch, which is one place diseases like to breed.
  • Deep, infrequent watering in the early morning, keeps moisture from remaining on the grass surface too long, which attracts disease.
  • Mowing frequently, at a high height and with a sharp mower blade, further helps to keep disease out.
  • Overseeding with disease-resistant grasses is another option you can consider.

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If you suspect your lawn has any type of lawn disease, contact the Signature Landscapes team about treatment services immediately. Quick action can make a big difference to save your lawn.

To learn more from the pros… you can visit these links:

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension has a great brochure about your turf. It’s not always a disease! It’s worth the time to download and read!
Click to view PDF

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