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.

Does Your Lawn Have Damage From a Lawn Mower?

lawn mower mowing

I recently received some pictures that one of our Field Service Professionals from Columbia City, IN of a lawn that he has been taking care of this year. Earlier in the summer, the lawn suffered from damage caused by mowing during the heat of the day that resulted in some disease activity on the stressed grass plants. As you can see from the first two pictures, this lawn was seriously stressed by heat and a lack of water.

mower damage to lawn

mower damage to lawn

After telling the customer that what they were seeing was related to the weather, improper mowing and some disease problems, the customer agreed to wait a few days to see how the lawns would recover.

It is important to point out that these lawns were fertilized just prior to the streaks appearing, which led these customers to ask if the damage was the result of the application.

The customer agreed to water the lawn and change the mowing practices. When the Field Service Professional went back 9 days later, the lawn had almost completely recovered. It was fortunate that the Columbia City area did receive some much needed rain during that period as well. As you can see by these two pictures, the lawn looks great and has recovered.

lawn recovery from mower damage

lawn recovery from mower damage

As I stated earlier, turf is an amazing plant. It can recover from a great deal of adversity, especially if it is being cared for with proper cultural practices and a well-balanced fertilizer program like Spring-Green’s Preferred Program.

Turf grass as we grow it on home lawns is not a natural system and needs help to grow. An important component of proper cultural practices is core aeration. I wrote about the benefits of core aeration many times over the years as I know what it can do for a lawn.

The soil found in most yards is usually not good. It is usually full of clay, rocks and even construction debris. Core aeration provides open places for the roots to grow and expand, giving you a better lawn in return.

I have been in the Green Industry for a long time and have endured  my share of droughts, floods, late snow fall, early snow fall and many other types of weather related problems. The one plant that seems to be able to keep coming back year after year is the turf grass plant. Of course, the other type of plant that seems to do even better than turf are weeds, but that is a Blog Post subject for another day.

For question on lawn mower damage or any other type of damage to your lawn, contact your neighborhood lawn care professional at Spring-Green.

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

lawn mowing

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

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

Take Precaution

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

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

Potential Risks

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

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

Length Matters

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

Lawn Mowing

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

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

4 Lawn and Landscape Chores to Get Your Yard Ready for Spring!

spring flowers

Spring has officially begun, so it is time to get ready for the coming growing season. Here are a few tasks that you can take care of now as the weather begins to warm up.

raking leaves

  1. Rake-up and compost any leaves that may have blown into your lawn over the winter.  Dried-up leaves will often blow in and collect in corners of your yard or under bushes during winter storms. Rake these up and put them in your compost bin. If the leaves are in your yard, use your mower to grind them up into smaller pieces. In most cases, the leaves will decompose very quickly. I often use the bag attachment on my mower to collect the ground-up leaves and spread them on my garden and mix them in to the soil as leaf litter is a great addition to your soil.
  2. Pick-up any sticks or branches that may have come down during winter storms. Although these branches will eventually decompose, trying to grind them up when mowing will not reduce them to small enough pieces. Plus, they will dull your mower blade.
  3. Cut back any dead plant growth on perennials left over from last fall.  This is especially important if these plants experienced any disease problems the previous year. The spores of the disease often over-winter on the dead tissue. Also, adult insects often spend the winter hiding in leaf litter or will lay eggs within that growth as well. Removing this growth can reduce insect and disease grow this year.
  4. Tune-up your lawn mower and sharpen your blade – You can either take your mower to a qualified repair store or even do the work yourself if you have the right tools, experience and can access YouTube. It is amazing how many tasks and procedures you can learn how to do just by watching a video. Not to long ago I had to replace a drive belt for the self-propelled feature on my own lawn mower. I decided to turn to YouTube and I found a video that showed me step-by-step on how to do it myself, in the end it worked and even saved me money.

lawn mower

A lawn mower is not that difficult to tune-up. Replacing the spark plug, cleaning and/or replacing the air filter and changing the oil is usually all that needs to be done. (If there is something more complicated than that, you may want to opt for the mower repair shop.)

The same is true for sharpening your mower blade.  If you have the right equipment, you can sharpen it yourself, but most home owners do not have the sharpener system that will leave the blade with an edge that is set at the right angle. The blade also needs to be balanced so it does not wobble when running at very high revolutions. It is also a good idea to clean the underside of the deck and remove all of the old caked-on grass clippings from the previous year. Remember, exercise proper safety and disconnect the spark plug wire before working on any gas-powered equipment.

None of these are too labor intensive. It always feels good to be back outside, working in your garden after being cooped-up indoors for several months.  Your muscles may not feel that good about doing all the work, but your garden will benefit from your hard work.

Do you have any questions about your list of lawn and landscape chores this spring? Comment below or Contact your local Spring-Green for more information.

Mow It High: How to Get Rid of Weeds and Have a Healthy Lawn

mowing higher is better for your lawn

When someone asks me to tell them the secret to getting rid of weeds and having a healthy lawn I always say the same thing: mow high. Cutting the grass too short is probably the most abused cultural practice by the average homeowner. I think the cause is due to a syndrome called the “Golf Course Syndrome” or “I want my lawn to look like a golf course putting green.”

Your Lawn Is Not a Golf Course.

The first thing to understand is that a golf course is all about having nice-looking greens, tees and fairways. They spend large amounts of money making it look that way. The second thing is that the average home lawn does not have the same type of grass that can be found on a golf course, nor do homeowners spend an equivalent amount of money caring for it. Finally, golf courses use mowing equipment that is completely different from what the average homeowner uses.

I recently participated in a webinar called Managing Broadleaf and Grassy Weeds in Warm-Season Turf, hosted by Landscape Management Magazine and sponsored by NuFarm Chemical Company. The co-presenter on the webinar was Dr. Jim Brosnan, Associate Professor, Turfgrass Weed Science at the University of Tennessee. During his presentation, Dr. Brosnan included the results of a study conducted by two researchers from Ohio State and Oklahoma State University, who determined that by raising the mowing height by 1/64 of an inch, photosynthesis will increase by 13%.

That is an amazing statistic. It goes along well with what I have been telling people for years; the shorter you mow, the less food the plant can produce. So, give your lawn a break and mow high. It will be greener, healthier and more weed free if you do!

A Nice looking Lawn – Expert Lawn Care Tips

If your lawn still needs help, give us a call! Your local Spring-Green owner is well versed in all aspects of lawn care, including disease treatments, grass care, weed control, and more.