Kansas City Landscaping and Lawn Care Ideas

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Archive for August, 2010

Ready to Renovate Your Lawn?

 

Important steps to a lawn makeover

Summer is still burning strong and we surely have several weeks left of stifling heat in Kansas City. Many of the lawns in the city are showing the stresses of surviving yet another brutal summer of heat and dryness. If your lawn no longer looks thick and healthy or has more weeds than grass, it is time to renovate.

Renovating your lawn involves removing all unwanted weeds and grass types and then reseeding with improved varieties of your choice of turf. Timing is critical for successfully renovating your lawn – late enough to avoid the worst heat yet early enough to allow ample time for growth before the freezing weather arrives. In Kansas City, the first week of September is usually the ideal time to seed, to seed your lawn properly requires a broad knowledge of grass, several different pieces of specialized equipment and a large commitment of time. For these reasons, I suggest that homeowners contact a qualified professional who specializes in growing quality turf.

Although cost is a consideration, when you look at the time, supplies and rental fees you might quickly realize that using a pro will pay off. Every year I am disheartened by the dozens of calls I get in late fall from homeowners who have spent hundreds of dollars and lots of hard work seeding their lawns with poor results. I have to tell these customers that we have missed the ideal time for seeding and the repair will require considerable extra time and cost without the guarantee of superior results.

Of all the lawn care tasks needed each year, I strongly believe that lawn seeding is the most important one to be done by a professional. When you hire a lawn care company, you will want to check their license, insurance and references to make sure you are working with a professional. Then ask them about their seeding process. The highest quality lawn will come from a professional who includes all of the following steps:

  • Soil Test – imperative to start by fixing and soil chemistry problems
  • Spray Herbicide – Important to control weeds prior to seeding (4 weeks prior)
  • Spray with Growth Regulator – slows down growth of existing turf so it does not compete with new grass (2 weeks prior)
  • Plant seed – using a specialized slit seeder that precisely meters and places seed in the soil for maximum germination
  • Starter fertilizer and Rooting stimulant – applied to the soil to provide nutrients to emerging seedlings

Now the professional’s work is done and it’s time to care for your newly planted lawn. You will need to moisten the ground daily for two weeks to promote germination and then to pamper the young seedlings. As the grass grows stronger, you will begin to establish a regular schedule of deep through watering. Proper watering is essential to your lawn’s success and it involves quite a commitment – however, it is the last step to the lush, healthy lawn you envisioned when you started the renovation process. Soon you will be walking barefoot through your lawn enjoying the thick green carpet, underfoot.

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Kansas Lawns suffer from Heat in Johnson County

 

Lawns suffer from Heat – Now What?

 

If your lawn is like most in Kansas City then it is suffering!  The Hottest July in several years followed by the wettest Spring of several years has been particularly devastating to our lawns.  The super wet spring caused many problems from Lawn Diseases and reduced root mass.  This followed up by 16 days of temps over 95 degrees was a perfect storm of death for turf.

The good news though is that relief is around the corner and lawns are very resilient.  The course of action will depend on the severity of damage.  Most lawns I see will likely recover from some intensive care this fall.  Others, will need more than intensive care and will need to be reseeded.  How do you tell?  First – decide – what type of lawn do you have?  Fescue, bluegrass, or I have no idea.

Bluegrass lawn

If you have a bluegrass lawn then it will recover quite quickly thanks to the quick growing rhizomes.  If dead spots in your lawn are less than the size of a dinner plate then you can help it along by fertilizing 3 times this fall — September, October and November.   September and October I would use an organic based fertilizer such as Bradfields or Milorganite.  In December apply a mineral based fertilizer that gets it’s nitrogen from urea since the soil temperatures will have cooled off the microbes and they will not break down organic fertilizers.  In addition, I would aerate in September when doing your first fertilizer treatment. 

If damage is bigger than a dinner plate, then in addition to the above program you may also want to over seed with a  great gold-tag bluegrass mix. 

Fescue Lawn

Fescue lawns will not recover as quickly as a bluegrass lawn since they do not have the ability to spread by rhizomes.  However, if damage is limited to spots smaller than a softball then intensive care of fertilizing in September, October and November can be quite helpful.  However, if the damage is larger than a softball you will need to so some overseeding.  I will write an article soon on the best practices for seeding lawns. 

I Have No Idea

If you do not know what type of grass you have then it is probably safe to assume it is a Fescue mix and should follow the guidelines above.

Another part of this to consider is that if you have lawn that is more than 50% weeds, then the best course of action would be to completely kill the lawn and start over.  This is not as hard as it sounds and will give you a greats tart to a beautiful lawn!

 

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Kansas City gardeners should not have to deal with inferior Garden Hoses!

 

Landscapes Need Water! – Use a Good Hose

 

One of the things I have noticed in spending a lot of time renovating landscapes around Kansas City this summer is that homeowners have terrible hoses.  Most probably don’t realize what they are missing by using these inferior watering devices!

 

Here are some tips:

Spend money on  hose that will last

A $10 hose from Wal Mart will work well for a year or so then you will be replacing it.  A $70 hose will work better from day one and will last a lifetime. The money you are spending on hoses provides several very real benefits.  Thicker rubber for less kinks and better usability, strong solid brass fitting for easy on and off attaching, and a good outer covering.  This si one place where spending money almost always means a better products.  (except for gimmick hoses – read further)

Size Matters

Hoses generally come in diameters range from 3/8, to 1 inch. The smaller the diameter, the less water the hose will deliver in a given period, and the difference can be significant. For instance, at 50 psi (average household water pressure), a 3/4" hose delivers 3.5 gallons in 10 seconds, while a 1/2" hose delivers one and a third gallons in the same time.You want as much water to be delivered as possible.  You can always turn it down at the faucet.  Buy 3/4”

 

When it comes to length you want one long enough to reach as far as you need – but not any longer.  Since the water has to travel through the entire length of the hose no mater where you are watering, a hose that’s too long just adds weight for you and diminishes the water flow through the hose.  A good idea is measure from your hose spigot to the farthest place your hose will need to reach and then round up to either 25, 50, 0r 75 feet.

 

Couplings are Important

The better hoses will have large solid brass fittings that turn easily and are easy to turn on and off.   This will dramatically reduce the frustration that goes along with inferior quality hoses.

Accessories make all the Difference

We’re talking manifolds, sprayers, and sprinklers.  These also follow the same adage as above.  More money almost always means better quality.  Don’t buy cheap plastic wands instead buy high quality rugged sprayers.  My favorite nozzle is this one.

 

Its sturdy, strong and simple.  By turning the end you have a full range of watering patterns from stream to spray.

 

I use these on nearly every faucet I use.  They are great for attaching multiple hoses to one faucet.  Make sure and buy the solid brass ones – plastic will break almost immediately.

 

 

These are nice to have at the end of your hose so you can turn off the hose switch ends without going back to the faucet to turn off and then back on. 

Gilmour Brass Garden Hose Connector With Shut-Off Valve 03V


The Cart Before the Hose

This is one place I have not found a  great solution.  Hose carts and Hose reels are important because they make using a hose easier and keeps the inevitable tangles from making hose use frustrating.  However, I have found very few that are strong enough to last.  Please leave a comment and let me know if you have found a hose reel that was strong and easy to work. 

 

The bottom line.

Buy a high quality 3/4” hose with all brass coupling and then add some high quality accessories and the garden chores where a hose is need will seem less tedious!  …and your landscaper will appreciate you even more for it!

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