Which Grassy Weed is in My Lawn?

It is not uncommon for a customer to believe they have crabgrass in their lawn, when in fact, they may have one of several perennial uncontrollable grassy weeds growing in their lawn.  The difficulty is telling which grassy weed is present.  Without getting into a lot of detail, here are a few simple clues to tell which grassy weed may be growing in your lawn.

  • Crabgrass:  This annual grassy weed grows flat to the ground and it looks like it has been stepped on.  Its growth habit resembles the spokes of a wheel.  The leaf blades are light green in color.  The center of the plant may be tinged with purple, but not always so.  As the seed head develops, its shape resembles a bird’s foot.  It is usually found along driveways, sidewalks, and street edges. Since there are two species of crabgrass that grows in the Midwest – Large and Hairy, there may be hairs growing on the plants as well.
  • Coarse Fescue:  This perennial grassy weed is often called crabgrass as it seems to grow better in the summer and can be more noticeable during summer heat and drought conditions.  It will grow in isolated patches throughout a lawn or in areas that are drier.  Identifying characteristics of this plant include a clump-growth habit, prominent veins on the leaf blade and the leaf edge or margin is serrated.  If you run your finger down along the edge, it will feel sharp, like a serrated knife. 
    Improved varieties of this turfgrass have been cultivated due to its ability to withstand more heat and drought than traditional cool-season grasses like Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass.  The improved cultivars often referred to as turf-type tall fescue, can be found in many seed mixes that are sold throughout the Midwest. 
  • Quackgrass:  This is another common perennial grassy weed that usually grows in large patches.  The leaf blades are a lighter color than of other cool-season grasses and the blades are sharply pointed at the tip.  In order to properly identify this grass, you need to pull up a plant so that you can see the sheath (stem) and where the leaf blade meets the stem.  If you look closely where the leaf blade meets the sheath, you will see two little growths that resemble little fingers wrapping around the sheath.  These are called auricles and they are the main identifying characteristic of quackgrass.
    One other identifying characteristic of quackgrass is its root system of aggressively growing rhizomes that can grow for many feet underground before surfacing.  Even if you were successful removing much of the root system, even a small section left behind can develop into a new grassy weed.

There are control measures for these weeds, but coarse fescue and quackgrass require the use of non-selective weed control products that contain glyphosate and then reseeding the area once the plants have died.  This is best done in late summer and early fall. 

Crabgrass begins to die when temperatures start to cool, and the amount of sunlight reduces in the late summer and early fall. There are weed control products that can be applied to crabgrass before it gets too old.  The best way to prevent crabgrass in the future is to apply a crabgrass preventer in the spring and, above all else, mow at a height of 3 inches all season long. 

If you think you may have a problem with these grassy weeds, contact Spring-Green so that we can provide proper recommendations to help your lawn improve.

Getting To Know & Getting Rid of Invasive Plants

Invasive Plants - Dandelions

Invasive plants are just as they sound; invasive. They are invading a space that is not native to them. This doesn’t just mean they came from somewhere other than your geographic locale, it can mean that they will cause big trouble for your landscape. Not all invasive plants are bad, but knowing how to identify them and remove them if needed can be mission-critical to keeping your lawn and its surrounding landscapes healthy.

Spring-Green, the neighborhood lawn care specialists for over forty years, can guide you to the knowledge you need to protect your landscape against potential damage that invasive species can cause. Of course, we’re here for you every step of the way as you build the perfect and healthy outdoor oasis. So, let’s drill down on the definitions, signs, and best practices for dealing with invasive plants.

Test Your Invasive Plant Knowledge

  • The Definition – The official definition, as put out by the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration, for invasive plants is any organism that causes ecological or economic harm in a new environment in a region where it is not considered native. Invasive plants can range from fish to reptiles to (the focus of this guide) plants. Invasive plants can be introduced to an area by ship ballast water or accidental release. The most common way, however, is attributed to human transport.
  • Common Invasive Plants ­– Your region will determine which invasive plant species you should be on the lookout for, but it’s a good idea to get familiar with this list of common ones.
    •  Poison Ivy – Poison Ivy is known for the itchy rash it causes for most people and is definitely an invasive plant species that you’ll want to keep out of your garden. If you spot it, be sure to wear gloves and protective clothing when removing it from your yard.
    • Dandelions – Dandelion can be problematic because it can quickly take over your entire lawn. The commonly-recognized yellow flower blooms quickly, and its seeds can disperse in the wind. Next thing you know, your green lawn is overtaken by a field of yellow flowers.
    • Violets – Wild violets are hearty in most environments as well as add flair and color to your garden. If you don’t want them in your garden, however, you can remove by hand or with a spot spray weed killer.
    • Creeping Charlie – Creeping Charlie is also sometimes referred to as Ground Ivy. It is strong and vigorous and can overtake your garden creating a mat that smothers other plants. You can dig it up or treat it with herbicide, which will likely take several applications over several weeks.
    • Plantain – Plantain is a common garden weed that likes the dark, moist corners or your garden. It’s easy to get rid of by digging up the roots or with the use of a Dandelion weeder. 
    • Crabgrass – Crabgrass is easy to remove by hand, but if it’s not kept under control, it can become a full-time job to get rid of it. Crabgrass thrives in the heat of summer and can be kept at bay with spot herbicide applications.

Crab Grass is also Invasive Plants

The Problems They Cause – The issue with invasive plants can be large on a macro and micro level. Let’s explore some of those reasons why we shouldn’t let invasive plants into our landscape and some of the problems they can cause.

  • Economic impact – Beyond our own backyards, invasive species can have a deep impact on the economies they invade. Agriculture, forestry, and fishing can all be impacted when invasive species are left uncontrolled.
  • Environmental impact – Invasive species have been shown to have an extreme impact on the environments they enter. They can cause the extinction of native plants and animals, destroy the surrounding biodiversity and permanently alter natural habitats.
  • Impact on Your Garden – Not all invasive species are bad, but most can have a negative impact on your home or business landscape. With their survival resilience, they can overtake your native plants, trees, and grasses if not kept in check.

How to get rid of invasive plants – Getting rid of the invasive plants that have popped up in your garden is not rocket science, but it might require some hard work. Techniques will slightly vary depending on the type of invasive plant you’re faced with removing, but the following are some overarching ways to clear them out.

  • Pull them out at the roots manually. Pull them out by the roots and dispose of your invasive species, if you can. If they have overcome your garden, this might be a tall task – so start early.
  • Use garden machinery. Mowing, chainsaws, and weed whippers might all be useful in getting the invasive species out quicker. It can be hard to protect to your desired native plants, grasses, and shrubbery.
  • Apply herbicides or weed killers. Your local garden center will have a bevy of chemical applications to kill off your invasive plants. The key will be finding ones that are environmentally-friendly and applying a way to does not kill everything.
  • Hire a professional for the assist. Spring-Green professionals help homeowners every day find solutions to protect their gardens from invasive species as well as assistance with removing them if they get out of control.

Spring-Green is your neighborhood lawn care specialist. We’ve been helping local homeowners and businesses with all aspects of lawn care since 1977. The impact of invasive species can be unsightly, costly, and negatively impact our environment. Spring-Green can help you proactively avoid issues before they happen and get your garden out of trouble if invasive plant species find a stronghold there. It all starts with a phone call or an email.

Start your partnership with the professional lawn care team at Spring Green today.

Don’t Make These Common Summer Lawn Care Mistakes

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by summer lawn care. Taking care of your lawn during the summer months is not rocket science. Still, it can feel like it sometimes – especially when there’s a mainstay of misleading and inaccurate information about how exactly to best care for your summer lawn. Of course, all intentions are in the right place, but where is a weary homeowner to turn when looking to keep their lawns healthy as the temperatures soar and the outdoor fun escalates? The good news is, your easy solution has arrived. The professional lawn care team at Spring-Green has put their heads together to compile a “mistake list” to eliminate the learning curve, dispel any false lawn care myths, and prepare you for a summer full of outdoor fun. Let’s get started!

Avoid These Summer Lawn Care Mistakes & Myths:

Don’t Burn with Fertilizer:

Adding too much fertilizer or adding it at the wrong time is a common summer lawn mistake that homeowners make. Too much fertilizer can burn grass blades and promote disease. By choosing slow-release fertilizers that do not need to be replenished as often, you can nourish your summer lawn with the vitamins it needs while not risking burning or other common problems.

Don’t Overwater or Underwater:

It’s important to find the perfect balance when it comes to watering your summer lawn. Too much or too little can cause big problems. If you water your summer lawn with too much water, you will wash away nutrients and create an environment ripe for fungus, making it susceptible to disease. Too little water can cause your grass to die. As a rule of thumb, most types of grass require one to two inches of water per week to thrive.

Don’t Neglect the Weeds:

Weeds are strong and resilient in nature. They’re especially strong and thriving during the summer months. Weeding is an essential task to keep your lawn healthy. If left unchecked (or “un-weeded” to be more accurate), your lawn could get into serious trouble from overpowering weeds. Be sure to check for weeds routinely and remove as quickly as possible when they appear in your summer lawn.

weeding

Don’t Cut with Dull Blades:

Have you checked the sharpness of your mower blades lately? Cutting the summer lawn is a common mistake that is easy to make, but almost just as easy to prevent. Dull mower blades can injure your grass blades and impact the aesthetic look of your lawn.

Don’t Cut Too Short:

Just like watering, mowing requires a perfect balance between too much and too little. Many overzealous homeowners take the step of mowing their lawn too much or leaving the grass blades too short. As a rule of thumb, you should never cut the grass below the one-third mark. If you do cut your grass too short, you may cause it to lose valuable nutrients and succumb to disease or even die.

Don’t Leave Clumps of Cut Grass After Mowing:

The grass grows like crazy in the summer, and post-cut grass clumps can seriously pile up. Resist the temptation to leave the clumps as they lay after you mow your lawn this summer. The left-behind grass clippings can block sun from reaching your lawn and cause yellowing and even cause your grass to die. Be sure to rake up the grass clippings to keep your lawn healthy.

grass mowing

Don’t Choose the Wrong Grass for Your Area:

Certain types of grass fit your geographic location, and others don’t. It’s that simple. If you choose grass types that aren’t a good fit for your climate and soil characteristics, you will be struggling against the odds to help your summer lawn succeed.

Don’t Neglect the High Traffic Areas:

Summer is the time for increased outdoor activity, raised temperatures, and scorching sun – all elements that can lead to wear and tear of the summer lawn. One way to mitigate against this issue is to install stepping stones or pavers in highly trafficked areas. You may try other ways to minimize traffic on your summer lawn that includes fencing and path lighting.

Don’t Overlook Signs of Insects and Pests:

Summer lawns are prime targets for insect infestations, such as chinch bugs, cutworms, armyworms, sod webworms, fire ants, fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. A routine pest preventative maintenance plan can help you keep your lawn from getting overtaken by these common summer insects.

Summer lawns are more important than any other time of the year when outdoor enjoyment needs are at their highest levels. Myths and mistakes for the care of your summer lawn abound. Don’t fall for the common missteps, just call the pros in from Spring-Green to assist you in your summer lawn pursuits. Spring-Green can share professional know-how that fits your unique area, your unique lawn and your unique goals. We’ve been the neighborhood lawn care specialists for over thirty years, so you can trust that we know the difference between summer lawn care myth and reality.

Contact Spring-Green for a consultation today.

Fruit Tree Care Tips

apple fruit tree

Having a fruit tree in your backyard can be one of the most rewarding things. Enjoying freshly picked berries, apples, mangoes, avocados, and others can create delicious delicacies and family memories that last a lifetime. Proper care for your fruit trees is the key to keeping the fun flowing. The Spring-Green team, leaders in lawn care since 1977, wants your enjoyment of your fruit trees to last for years to come, so we put this guide together to help you understand how to care for them. While care will vary based on your fruit tree varietals and the region of the world you reside, these best practices will help you build a strong foundation for success care of your fruit trees.

Everything to Know About Caring for Your Backyard Fruit Trees

“An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure”: This old adage is almost always true; Understanding how to prevent an issue with your fruit tree is the best way to keep the enjoyment lasting for many years to come.

  • Fertilizer – It’s recommended that you fertilize your young fruit tree once each year, typically in the spring before the tree fruit blooms. It’s recommended that fertilizer usage increases over the years as the tree matures. Be sure to water immediately after fertilization to ensure the fertilizer gets into the tree’s roots.
  • Pest Prevention – Watch for signs of damage from pests that can hurt the fruit tree. Be sure to weed regularly and pick up fallen fruit, as well as trim off dead branches.
  • Mulching – A layer of mulch applied to the base of the fruit tree not only protects the soil when temperatures drop, it also boosts the healthiness of the soil. Mulch should consist of compost, wood chips, grass clippings, shredded leaves, pine needles, or wood nuggets.

Get Good at Pruning: Regular pruning is important to keeping your fruit trees healthy long-term. Depending on the climate where you live, the bulk of the fruit pruning will take place in winter. Some pruning should regularly take place all year long as well. The National Gardening Association recommends pruning suckers and waterspouts in early summer months to reduce chances of disease and insect issues.

pruning fruit tree

Young vs. Mature Fruit Trees: Your care regimen for young versus mature fruit trees is slightly different. Let’s check out some of the best practices for your trees, depending on age.

  • Water a young fruit tree once every-other week.
  • Mature fruit trees still need a thorough watering on a regular basis from you or rainfall.
  • Fertilize your young tree gently as it grows and be sure to trim with pruning shears as needed.
  • Use fertilizer intended for mature fruit trees when they have been in the ground for three years or more.
  • For a newly-planted fruit tree, cut the top at around three feet and make sure the branches are uniformly spaced-apart.
  • Mature trees require a yearly pruning in either late winter or early spring, removing dead and broken branches.
  • No more than one third of the total growth on the tree should be removed in one season.

Planting Fruit Trees: Questions swirl for newbie fruit tree planters like “lots of direct sun versus no sun,” or “how do I prepare the ground?” as well as “how often do I water my newly-planted fruit tree?” No worries. Spring-Green has the details you need to get started on a good foot:

  • Water a young fruit tree once every other week. Most fruit trees require that you apply enough water to moisten the soil to a depth of three feet to reach the roots.
  • Find a place in your backyard (or front yard) where your fruit trees can get approximately six hours of sun each day.
  • Be sure your fruit tree is planted a minimum of three to six feet from sidewalks, driveways, and buildings.
  • If you’re planting more than one tree, allow 10 to 15 feet of space between each tree.

What if Your Fruit Tree is Sick?

Ways to treat a diseased fruit tree will vary depending on the type of tree and your location. However, a copper spray, found in most home improvement stores or nurseries, resolves most common fruit tree diseases. You may also explore insecticidal soaps to get rid of common pests like aphids and mites. If the disease is only harming a small portion of the tree, cut away the dead branches damaged by the disease, and with each cut be sure to disinfect your tools with a bleach or alcohol solution. When removing diseased branches, make you’re pruning cut is six inches below the diseased area. You can also learn about how to rejuvenate mature fruit trees that haven’t produced much fruit in their later years here.

Your backyard environment needs some assistance to provide the same benefits to trees and shrubs as a natural forest habitat. Spring-Green offers homeowners expert guidance in caring for fruit trees, along with other types of trees, including shrubs. Our tree and shrub care program is designed to provide quality service at an affordable price. We can provide tips for maintenance and prevention, as well as assistance when your fruit trees encounter a problem. Since 1977, we’ve provided neighborhoods just like yours with the very best in lawn care, which, of course, includes your fruit trees.

Check out Spring-Green’s…

  • 2-Step Tree Program – Nourish and protect your fruit trees with Spring-Green’s tree and shrub care programs and services that keep your landscape looking beautiful and save you tons on replacement costs.
  • Root Feeding Service – Spring-Green offers a deep root service that delivers essential nutrients directly to your fruit tree’s root zone.
  • Specialty Injections – Tree trunk injections can allow your fruit tree to fight certain types of leaf diseases or insects.

Contact A Pro From Spring-Green Today To Get Started.

How to Prevent Wasp Nests On & Around Your Home

wasp nest

During mid- to late summer, wasp activity, along with the temperatures, begin to heat up. If you notice wasps and wasp nests are showing up around your home during the summer months, you don’t have to be a prisoner to the threat of these pesky flying pests. While we cohabit with nature and many of nature’s creatures, wasps can pose a threat to our well-being if left unchecked. For this reason, it’s important to level up your knowledge of wasps and take a few easy steps to keep them at bay. Of course, if you are having a wasp invasion that’s gotten out of control, it might be a prudent move to call in an expert to help you rid your area of these stinging insects. If that’s the case, contact your local Spring-Green pros to find out if they’re offering wasp services to assist you. For the rest of us, let’s get prepared by exploring how wasps get attracted to your home, what the early signs of a wasp nest invasion looks like, as well as how to remove wasps and their nests when they do pop up.

Before the Sting: Preventative Measures to Keep Wasps at Bay

Get to Know Your Enemy

Wasps are most attracted to sweet foods such as open cans of pop, fruit juice, fallen apples underneath fruit trees, among others. It’s best to clean up quickly after your outdoor BBQ and not leave these sweets out for long.

Aside from understanding what attracts a wasp, you must also learn about where they like to make residence. Wasp nests vary based on the stinging insect that makes its home there. So, let’s start our wasp-related learning quest with a quick primer on the types of wasp nests:

  • Yellowjacket Nests – Yellowjackets usually seek out abandoned rodent homes, old logs, or any empty hollow structure to build their nests. It’s possible that a yellowjacket will build a hanging nest off the ground on occasion as well. This type of wasp nest will have a thick protective layer and one point of entry.
  • Hornet Nests – The European Hornet is the most common type of hornet. Their nests also consist of the outer protective layer with tiers on the inside. They are most commonly found above the ground in tree cavities or other raised empty spaces, typically at least six feet above the ground.
  • Paper Wasp Nests – The nest of the Paper Wasp will not have the protective outer layer like the hornet and yellowjacket.  This nest will have open cells that look like an open umbrella.  Paper Wasps craft their nests under roofs, up in tree branches, and in the overhangs of sheds, attics, and garages.  
  • Mud Dauber Nests – Mud daubers are loners, so they build homes for themselves only. Their nests are made up of their own saliva mixed with soil to make mud that is molded into a nest that can appear on the side of a building or a hole in the ground.

The Case for Getting Rid of Wasps is Strong

So, if we want to coexist with the natural world and try to reduce our carbon footprint, can’t we just leave wasp nests alone? The answer, in this case, is no. The reality is that most wasp nests grow in size and become a risk to you and your family. To put things in perspective, a Yellowjacket nest can contain thousands of wasps. If disturbed, an attack can cause them to become aggressive and attack – causing pain, possible allergic reactions, and potentially serious health threats.

wasp

Avoid Attracting Wasps to Your Home, Obviously

By understanding what places attract wasps to build their nests at, you can actually prevent the problem before it begins (best case scenario). Here are some tips to keep the wasps from feeling compelled to make nests on your home:

  • Clove-Geranium-Lemongrass Oil BlendA combination of clove, geranium, and lemongrass essential oils has been successful in keeping wasps away. You can spray the mixture in areas where you know wasps might want to build their nests like under eaves, porch roofs, as well as ledges and crevices.
  • Wasp Traps – Another option to keep unwanted visitors from setting up home base on your property is wasp traps. They lure the wasps in and then trap them inside. They can be purchased at the store or easily made yourself.

  • Close Gaps – Now that we know the places that wasps like to settle in, you can certainly make some small improvements and cleaning efforts to keep the nesting at bay. Sealing up cracks and tidying up debris can reduce the places for wasps to make their nests.
waspnests

Safe Removal of an Existing Wasp Nest

Safely removing wasps’ nests near your home or in your yard is not easy. As you can imagine, the wasps can be aggravated when you start to mess around with their home. You have a couple of choices here: you can go it alone and get rid of the wasps yourself, or you can call in a professional to do the work for you. Here are some tips and help in making that decision:

  • The Do-It-Yourself Wasp Removal Strategy – If your wasp’s nest is not overly large and not overly populated, you may be able to get rid of it yourself. If there’s an exposed nest near your home, you may choose to use a wasp spray. Be sure to wear gloves and protective eye wear along with long pants and sleeves when you apply the poison. The best time of day is early morning when most wasps will still be inside the nest with minimal activity. Also, be sure you can back out of the area quickly after you bother the wasps. Leave the area for a day or two and then check for any signs of wasps still lingering, in which case, you may need to repeat. If the wasp’s nest is tucked behind a wall or deck, it’s much harder to get rid of. You may need to drill holes and apply a dust insecticide through the holes.
  • The Time to Call a Pro – If you have an extremely large (in size or quantity) wasp presence or if the wasps are deeply embedded into a structure, you may be better off calling professionals to assist.

Spring-Green, your neighborhood lawn care partners since 1977, also specializes in pest control that includes wasp removal and prevention services. From pesky biting mosquitoes to wasps making their nests on and around your home, Spring-Green is here to help with your pest control needs. Not all pest services available at all Spring-Green locations. Please contact your local Spring-Green professional to check if these services are available in your area.

Contact Spring-Green Today!

Everything to Know About Thatch

thatch

Lawn thatch is a term you may have heard thrown around, or maybe you’ve even seen it up close a few times, but how much do you truly know about it? The lawn care pros at Spring-Green have compiled a guide to help you get schooled up on thatch. Everything you need to know has been gathered up in this easy-to-read format so you can get your overview quickly and then return to your busy life. Of course, we’re here for you to help you with any and all your lawn care needs related to thatch or otherwise.

Lawn Thatch 101

So, What Exactly Is Thatch? Thatch is a mix of dead and living plant matter that typically forms at the base of your grass, right at the point where the grass stems meet the soil. Some popular types of grasses are more likely to experience thatch buildup than others. It’s common for grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass, Bermudagrass, and creeping fescues to get thick thatch that requires dethatching. On the other hand, tall fescue or perennial ryegrass rarely have thatch problems.

What Causes Thatch? Normally, organic matter, such as small grass clippings or mulched leaves, breaks down quickly. However, sometimes these materials and others can go too slowly, causing a buildup layer that leads to thatch growth.

Should I Be Worried If I See Thatch in My Lawn? A common question homeowners have is whether thatch is good or bad for their grass or plants. The answer is – it depends. If the thatch layers grow beyond one inch of thickness, they become barriers to the health of your lawn and plant life. Thick thatch can block the needed water and fertilizer from reaching grass roots leaving your lawn and plants vulnerable to heat and stress. As you continue to water your thatch covered lawn, the irrigation can trap moisture, creating a breeding ground for disease and insects.

How Do I Get Rid of Thatch? If your lawn’s thatch has grown to over two inches of thickness, you may call in the professionals to get rid of it. Excessive thatch removal has to be done gently to avoid damage the roots of your grass. If your thatch has not gotten overly thick, you may be able to take care of it yourself.  You can dethatch your lawn in three ways:

  1. Dethatching Rakes – Manual dethatching rakes are one option to get rid of the thatch in your lawn. These special rakes have curved blades that can be used to dig into your lawn and pull up thatch. These are good for small dethatching areas and for general maintenance of small areas.
  • Power Rakes – A power rake is another option if you have a larger area to dethatch. Power rakes are similar to a push mower but have rotating devices that pull out the thatch. Power rakes are a good choice for lawns with thinner thatch layers and tough grass that can take the powerful removal of thatch.
  • Vertical Mowers – Verticutters, also referred to as a vertical mower, are a third option in the DIY thatch removal effort. They have vertical blades sharp enough to dig down through the thatch layer to pull out the thatch forcefully. The downside is they often pull out the grass as well. Verticutters are a good option if you are completely overhauling your lawn.
thatch raking

Can I Prevent Thatch from Popping Up? While there is no fool-proof way to prevent thatch from occurring, there are a few steps to take to prevent it.

  • Keeping an eye on your lawn’s soil pH balance, for example. Lawns with low soil pH are more prone to thatch.
  • Another common factor to thatch overgrowth is too much fertilizer or using products with too much pesticide.
  • One final tip is to monitor the thatch growth and deal with it at its beginning stages. If left too long, the thatch becomes harder to remove and the damage to the grass becomes more significant.

Are There Special Steps I Should Take After I Dethatch? When you finish your dethatching work, be sure to rake up all thatch debris and water your dethatched lawn thoroughly. This is also an ideal time to seed your lawn, now that you’ve cleared the space for new, healthy growth. As a preventative maintenance step, you can also start to test your soil to ensure its pH is at optimal levels.

Spring-Green, the lawn care leader since 1977, can help you determine the why, when and how around dethatching your lawn. We’ll help you get your lawn back on track and then provide the guidance to keep it there.  Count on our team of pros to help you enjoy a beautiful, healthy lawn – thatch-free.

Get in touch with a Spring-Green pro today.

Your Spring Planting Plan Is Here

Garden-flowers

Welcome to May! It’s time to start looking forward to all the amazing things spring and summer can bring to our outdoor world. If you’ve had gardening on your mind, the time to get started is now. It’s optimal time to get to work on your vegetable, fruit, herb, or flower planting initiatives. The pros at Spring-Green are passionate about all things that grow outside. Of course, we’re your neighborhood lawn care partners, but we’re all about gardening too. We know the weather is beautiful, and the time is right to get started. That’s why we’ve crafted this little beginner’s guide for you to check out as you plan out your spring garden this year.

5 Things That Should Be On Your Gardening Mind This May

  1. Get Familiar with Popular Vegetables, Fruit, & Flowers

May is prime time for gardening. Some vegetables, fruits, flowers, and herbs are best planted in later spring.Of course, many variables influence what choices you should make for your specific garden, but here is an overview of perfect options for planting in the month of May.

Fruits Honeydew Melon, Tomatoes, Raspberries

Vegetables Cucumber, Beets, Carrots, Beans, Peppers, Potatoes, Garlic

Herbs Mint, Rosemary, Sage, Cilantro, Thyme, Parsley, Basil

Flowers Crocus, Daffodils, Hyacinths, Primrose, Tulips, Camellia

2. Where to Begin?

Starting your spring garden can be the hardest part if you’re a newbie. Not to worry, though – follow these steps to get your garden growing in time for optimal enjoyment this summer.

Planting in Garden

Start by answering a few general questions:

  • Which vegetables does your family love to eat?
  • If you’re planting flowers, what are your preferences?
  • What is your budget for your garden?
  • Are you looking for flowers that return on their own each year, or do you prefer to plant anew every spring?

Follow some general rules of thumb:

  • Avoid getting fancy for your first garden – start basic and build your way up to more complicated gardening once you’re comfortable.
  • Choose the areas of your yard for the garden wisely. Consider the sun coverage and exposure to other elements like shade, rain, and wind. You’ll also want to choose a level spot of land, avoiding slopes. If you have a large property, you may also consider a place that’s easy to eyeball and see how it’s working.
  • Do a thorough job of clearing away any debris, weeds, and roots from the ground on the area you want to plant.
  • Check out the health of your soil. Soil is one of the most important elements to the success of your garden. You can test the pH balance of the soil, and if needed, add nutrients in advance to get it garden-ready.

3. Explore What’s Best for You & Your Garden

Once you have a good sense of the garden generalities, it’s time to customize your plan for your plantings. You’ll need to define…

  • Size: How big will your garden be? This choice is variable to your space and preference but can influence what you choose to plant.
  • Location: Where will your garden be in your yard? This is a pivotal decision as you want optimal sun exposure for the specific plants you select as well as consideration for rain, weather, and soil conditions.
  • Geography: Some plants thrive in the south and warmer climates or only in the northwest of the United States. It may simply depend on where you are located on the map so make sure you research your plants’ best geography.
  • Time: The amount of time and effort you can put into your garden is another factor that can influence your choice. If you know you don’t have too much time to dedicate to your gardening effort, you may want to choose heartier plants such as Hostas, Daisies, Hibiscus, Garlic, Chives, Basil, or Oregano that don’t require a lot of TLC. You could also opt to plant in a few pots and save space in your lawn.

4. How to Maintain Your Spring Garden

Now you need to get down to the business of planting your garden. Your next train of thought should be related to maintenance. Here are few tips to get you started – of course, many variables can influence your maintenance, such as your climate and your specific garden’s plants:

  • Find the perfect balance of water to keep your garden growing. Your young garden should never be allowed to dry out to make sure the roots can flourish. Generally in the warmer months watering once per day is recommended.
    • Mulch is a great option to protect your garden from weed overgrowth as well as locking in moisture. Best practices are to cover the soil with about two inches of mulch to prevent the sunlight from hitting the soil. Be sure to choose organic mulch, such as bark or cocoa bean shells, to support healthy soil.
    • Although the mulch will help keep weeds at bay, they can still pop up. Be sure to keep an eye out for weeds, dead vegetation and, of course, pesky bugs or rodents to keep your garden healthy.
garden box

5. Tips for a Raised Bed Garden

You may decide to go with a raised garden for aesthetics or because your soil quality is not great. Either way, a raised bed garden is not difficult to install. If you’re handy, you can do it yourself. If you like the easier option, you can most likely find one at your local nursery or home repair store.

As you plan your spring garden, be sure to take into consideration factors like sunlight, rainfall, soil conditions, as well as your level of commitment, so you can ensure your garden is a success. Spring-Green is standing by if you’re in need some expert advice or support for your garden and your lawn care needs. Since 1977, we’ve partnered with home and business owners in our communities to help them get full enjoyment out of their outdoors.

Get started with a call to Spring-Green.

What to Know About Asian Giant Hornets

murder hornets

The world’s largest hornets have been reported in the US, leaving many to question how dangerous these black and orange insects could be to our ecosystem.

The Asian giant hornet is also known as the Japanese giant hornet and the Murder Hornet. They’re native to Asia, ranging from Japan and Russia down to Thailand and Myanmar (formerly Burma). But they were first discovered in the US in the fall of 2019 in Washington State. At that time, only two Murder Hornets were discovered, but since then, two new, unconfirmed sightings were reported in April of 2020. These hornets most likely arrived to the US as unseen stowaways in packing crates.

Top Facts About Asian Giant Hornets

  • Asian giant hornets can reach 2 inches in length
  • Their wingspan reaches more than 3 inches long
  • Only females have stingers, which can reach .2 inches in length
  • Their stings deliver a potent neurotoxin, which is nearly seven times the amount of venom that a honey bee delivers
  • Asian giant hornets are able to sting repeatedly
  • Nearly 50 people a year die in Japan from Murder Hornet stings, mostly due to allergic reactions
  • However, multiple stings can kill humans, even if not allergic

Murder Hornets Attacking Honey Bees

Murder hornets are a significant predator to the European honey bee. The biggest fear from these hornets is the damage they do to honey bees, which are responsible for most of the pollination of crops across the US. Honey bees contribute an estimated $15 billion each year to the U.S. economy through their pollination services, far more than any other managed bee, according to the Scientific American.

honeybees

Hornets are most destructive in the late summer and early fall, when they’re on the hunt for sources of protein to raise next year’s queens. This is when the Asian giant hornets will attack honey bee hives. Attacks on beehives come in three phases…

  1. First, the hornets hunt individual bees from a hive that has been chemically marked by another hornet. Once captured, the hornets rip the bees to pieces and carry the dismembered bits back to their hive and feed it to their own larvae.
  2. Next is the slaughter stage, where dozens of hornets attack the hive and massacre tens of thousands of bees. “Within a few hours, a strong, healthy, and populous honeybee colony of 30,000-50,000 workers is slaughtered by a group of 15 to 30 hornets,” according to a Washington State University report.
  3. In the final phase, the hornets move into the defeated hive and feed on the abandoned larvae and pupae, making it into a “bee paste” and take it back to their hive and feed it to their own young.  The hornets are very aggressive during this stage and may attack animals or humans that wander too close to the occupied beehive.

The Murder Hornet was originally sighted near Blaine, WA and on Victoria Island in Vancouver, BC. No hornet hives have been discovered, but spring is the mating season, so there are numerous warnings posted in Washington.  

To read more about the Murder Hornet, check out the WSU Fact Sheet.

Is Your Lawn Equipment Ready for Spring?

mower

Spring is here! The temperatures are starting to drop, and our outdoor world is alive with the splendors that spring brings. The time has never been more urgent to review the status of your lawn to ensure it’s ready for the spring season. If you’ve been distracted with all the events that are taking place in the world today, it’s perfectly understandable. It might be time, however, to shift gears and focus on your lawn for a few moments to make sure it’s prepped and ready for the upcoming season. You’ll need to take stock of your equipment, including lawnmowers, weed whackers, edgers, gardening tools, electric power equipment, and garden hoses. Use this checklist to ensure your lawn is healthy.

Your Spring-Ready Lawn Gear Checklist

1. Prep Your Lawnmower

The lawnmower has been in hibernation all winter, but now it’s time to gear up for a working season ahead. Don’t wait until the grass is in need of an overdue trim to give some attention to the lawnmower. Step one of your spring-prep checklist is to bring the mower out of the shed and follow some easy steps to shake off the winter dust. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Cleaning and De-winterization: Start by draining and replacing any old fuel in the mower before attempting to turn it on. Then do a quick inspection of basic maintenance points like the oil, spark plugs, and air filters to make sure they’re in good condition. Take a quick check of the pull cords, making sure they aren’t frayed and are in good working condition. This might be a good time to pull out the machine’s manual and check that you’ve followed all recommended maintenance protocols.
  • Warm Up Run Before the First Use: Once everything appears to be in good working order and you’ve filled up with fresh fuel, it’s the perfect time to start the engines and let your lawnmower warm up before the first cut of spring. This warm up will allow the engine to run before prolonged use and also allows you to listen for any strange sounds that might indicate a problem is brewing.
  • Common Repairs to Lookout For: Some common post-winter lawnmower repairs are generally related to chords, air filters, dirty fuel or oil, and debris buildup.These are areas to keep an eye out for as you prep your mower for spring. If you have a battery-operated mower or riding lawnmower, the battery may need to be charged or even replaced after a long winter break.
  • Lawnmower Blade Maintenance Tips: One of the most frequently asked questions lawn pros get is, “how can I tell if my lawnmower needs a new blade or just needs to be sharpened?” The rule of thumb is most mower blades will last 20-25 hours until they need to be sharpened. Overall lifetime of most blades is approximately 100-200 hours total. This number can be higher, ranging up to 400 hours, for higher quality blades. Once you’ve cleared the cuttings deck of any clippings, you can keep an eye on how well your lawnmower works on your grass.

2. Take Stock of Your Other Electric Equipment

Be sure to take a look at all your other lawn power equipment before its first spring use – not just the lawnmower. You might have a shed full of weed whackers, edgers, gardening tools, electric power equipment all ready for spring cleaning. As you dig into that packed shed, be sure to inspect your lawn equipment for signs of rust, broken parts, or frayed wires. If blades need to be replaced or sharpened, now is the perfect time.

trimmer

3. Decide to Repair or Buy New

To repair or replace, this is always the question that befuddles lawn equipment owners. The answer is usually clear when you weigh out the pros and cons, asking yourself questions such as:

  • Is my lawn equipment still under warranty?
  • Do I use this piece of equipment often?
  • Is there a newer model that offers more features?
  • Is the cost (or time required) to repair more than the worth of the equipment?

4. Get Ready for Watering

April showers bring May flowers, undoubtedly. And, as we approach the summer months, lawn watering becomes crucial to keeping everything lush, green, and healthy. Having said all this, no spring checklist could be complete without some attention to hoses and sprinklers. Here are a few best practices to follow to get yourself ready to water your lawn.

watering hose
  • De-winterize Your Gardening Hose: Follow a few easy steps to make sure your garden hoses are ready for use this spring. Unroll your hose and hook it up to the tap to ensure it’s in full working order and has not rotted or been otherwise damaged during the winter. Make sure you have enough hoses to keep your lawn hydrated and healthy this summer, keeping in mind that your lawn will need about an inch of water per week on average to remain perfectly hydrated, or about .63 gallons per square foot of grass.
  • Prep Your Sprinklers: Sprinkler systems can get damaged during winter for a myriad of reasons. Any homeowner knows how frustrating it can be to turn on the sprinkler system when the lawn is turning brown, only to find it not working properly. Your quick check to make sure all parts are working can save you frustration at a key moment later in the summer.

As the most beautiful and warmest season descends, be sure to take a few key steps to ensure you’re ready to care for your lawn. Spring-Green is, of course, here for you should need our professional services. Our team of expert technicians is standing by as your neighborhood lawn care partner with services for your lawn, landscape, pest control, and more.

Get started with Spring-Green today.

Top Tips for Spring Tree Care

flowering tree

As we enter into spring and embark on the warm summer months, many homeowners are left grappling with caring for their trees as the seasons change. Questions swirl around the tree-loving homeowner’s mind like: How do I care for my trees as they come out of dormancy? How do I help my trees stay healthy in the spring? These questions and so many others are about to be demystified, so you can feel confident that your trees are going to thrive as they move into spring as well as the rest of the year.

The 1,2,3’s of Caring for Trees This Spring & Year-Round

  • Understand Dormancy and How It Works – Trees have an extremely resilient nature and an inner intelligence that allows them to go dormant during bitter cold periods of winter and, like clockwork, wake up when spring finally brings warmer temps. Scientists determined that trees actually block communication between the cells inside the bud during winter, preventing growth cells from developing.
Sycamore Tree Winter
  • Inspect Your Trees and Shrubs – Once the snow begins to melt, and the temperatures slowly begin to climb, it’s a good time to take a venture outdoors and examine the state of your trees and shrubs. During a harsh winter, the conditions can have an impact on the well being of your trees and shrubbery. Look for injuries from freezing temperatures that may have caused bark to split or browning on evergreens from winter burn. As we enter spring, it’s the essential time to treat any of these issues and prevent them from causing further damage.
  • Prune Away Dead Branches – As we enter spring, it’s time to grab the pruning shears and clear away the dead branches. The general rule of thumb is to prune spring flowering trees and shrubs after they flower in the spring. The flower buds from those plants were set in fall, so shearing or shaping of these plants in the spring will result in fewer flowers. Individual limbs can be removed if they are crossing another limb, are damaged, or if you want to improve the shape of the plant. It’s also highly recommended to prune at this time to improve airflow and light penetration.
prune trees
  • Break Out the Mulch – Your mulching efforts at the start of spring will help retain moisture, even if the temperatures drop to extreme levels as they can do during the unpredictable spring. Mulching has many other benefits, including weed prevention and lessening the likelihood of attacks from borers, ants, and beetles. Three inches of mulch is all you need and be sure to avoid piling mulch up on the trunks of trees to form “mulch volcanoes.”
  • The Time to Water Is Now – Step up your tree watering game as you enter spring and gear up for summer with these best practices – water deeply but infrequently, don’t over water, and water during periods of drought. Also monitor moisture levels, making sure your trees don’t dry out your trees. This is an excellent time to check on the sprinkler system too, ensuring they are working properly, and that the coverage is accurate.
watering tree

Caring for trees and shrubs requires a year-round effort. As we exit the cold months and step into spring, we can set our trees up to thrive by following a few easy instructions. And, if you need some more help with any aspect of your arbor or lawn care, Spring-Green has a team of professionals ready to mobilize and assist you with all your needs.

Contact Your Spring-Green Specialist Today!