Mulch or Pine Straw? The pros and cons of each

Lawn service in Hoover

Mulch or Pine Straw?
Pros and cons of each explained

Lawn service in Hoover
Lawn Maintenance in Helena, AL

Pine-straw and Mulch not only create great curb appeal but also boost the health of the content of your beds. Both options add organic matter to your soil that helps to make plants more resistant to pest and disease while providing valuable slow-release nutrients. They also help to retain moisture where it’s needed and help to regulate soil temperatures.

Here’s a list of pros and cons of each:

Mulch

 

Pros:

  • Mulch retains moisture throughout hotter seasons, therefore, helping shrubbery and plants
  • Creates a great fertilizer once it decomposes
  • Insulates during temperature changes

Cons:

  • Can become a home for insects and other pests
  • Can reduce weed growth, but requires a thick layer
  • Not sufficient for installation on slopes or hillsides where it may erode

Pine-straw

 

Pros:

  • Protects shrubs and low growing foliage throughout the winter months
  • Great for erosion control with less washing problems
  • Easy to spread to desired thickness
  • Eliminates weeds

Cons:

  • Creates a very acidic soil
  • Becomes slippery when installed on a slope or hillside
  • Requires replacement more often
  • Can become flammable in dry conditions

Mulch and pine straw have their pros and cons based on their particular use. Pine-straw can be less expensive to cover a specific area but can become an eyesore and need to be refreshed more often. Whereas mulch contains more nutrients for the soil but tends to erode and requires more attention to eliminate weeds.

If you are interested in a quote or need some advice, give us a call! 

Identifying Alabama’s most common weeds

lawn covered with weeds that needs treatment

Identifying Alabama's most common weeds and how to get rid of them

lawn covered with weeds that needs treatment

Ever walk around your lawn wondering if you have more weeds than grass? This guide should help you identify the most common weeds and how to cope with them throughout the season. It is important to know that weeds in your lawn compete for water, nutrients, and sunlight reducing the quality of a healthy lawn.

Here’s a list of the most common weeds in Birmingham

invasive weed to birmingham

Annual Bluegrass

Annual bluegrass (Poa annua) is a cool-season, annual grass that spreads by seed. Annual bluegrass has a tufted habit with a bright green leaf color and fine texture.

a weed that grows locally here in the Birmingham area

Broadleaf Plantain

Leaves are broadly lance shaped to egg shaped, hairless or sparsely short haired. Roughly 2 to 7 inches (5–18 cm) long, leaves have five to seven prominent parallel veins from the base.

dandelions in the yard

Dandelion

Dandelions have a toothy, deeply-notched, basal leaves that are hairless. They are 2 to 9 inches or longer and they form a rosette above the central taproot.

clovers in grass

Clover

One of the best ways to control clover is to feed your lawn regularly, which provides grass with the nutrients it needs to grow thick and strong and prevent clover from growing.

an invasive weed in the birmingham area

Chickweed

Chickweed is a creeping winter annual lawn weed. Seeds germinates in cool temperatures. It takes root where they contact the soil, allowing it to completely overgrow large patches of lawns.

weeds in the birmingham alabama area

Lambsquarters

Common lambsquarters do not tolerate routine mowing and will usually disappear after a month or two of maintenance. The leaves are somewhat variable in shape & tend to be wider in the middle and tapering at the ends and covered with a gray-mealy coating.

The best way to control weeds is to make your lawn difficult for them to thrive. Things like keeping your lawn mowed at the appropriate height and proper feeding of grassy areas. There are also pre and post emergents available for preventing germination and killing weeds that pop up in the lawn. 

A well-maintained lawn can help naturally control weeds. If you need assistance, we’re here to help. Just give us a call and we’ll get you an instant quote on your property for any of your lawn maintenance needs!

Get greater curb appeal with a healthy lawn

lawn service

Get greater curb appeal with a healthy lawn

lawn service

Having a good-looking lawn is increases curb-appeal. It is extremely important to pay attention to your lawn as an unhealthy lawn can ruin the entire look of your property.

The first step in creating a lush, green and healthy lawn is to determine which type of grass you have in your area (for example, here in Birmingham area,  our grass types are Bermuda, Zoysia, and St. Augustine). Another consideration is your climate and how much sun and rain your grass receives. This will determine how often you should be watering your lawn.

Watering your lawn properly is important as it provides the grass with the correct amount of moisture, it cools down the temperature of the soil and it helps wash any fertilizer into the soil.

During the colder months, your grass still needs attention and will benefit from frequent and shallow watering to keep it looking in tip-top shape. The reason for this is that winter grass has shallower root systems than in the summer months.

The best time to water your lawn is in the early morning because it is cooler and there is less evaporation. In addition, if your grass dries before sunset, there is a reduced risk of it contracting a disease.

You can speed up the growth and development of your new, healthy lawn by mowing frequently. However, take care not to cut the grass too short as (no more than 1/3 inch of the blade) and also ensure that your mower blades are kept sharp.

Finally, if you decide to aerate your lawn, you will be doing it a massive favor! These 2 processes help to remove any dead root material from the lawn and ventilate the lawn’s root system if the grass underlayer is becoming problematic.

We’re here to help! Greener lawns. Sharper image.

A homeowner’s guide for a healthy lawn

Homeowner's Guide for a Healthy Lawn


You don’t need to spend hours every day tending to your lawn to make it healthy, it’s easier than you think! Here is a great guide to obtaining a great-looking lawn.

The way in which you mow your lawn plays a big role in healthy grass. As a rule of thumb, you should cut your grass at a proper shorter height that’s appropriate for your grass type when you mow for the first time in the season. This helps to remove dead grass and allows sufficient sunlight in. For subsequent mowings, the cutting height should be around 2 – 3 inches (based upon the type of grass you have) and always make sure that the mowing blade is sharp.

To look its best, your lawn should receive 1 to 2 inches of water every week. This amount of water will ensure that the roots have enough water to grow and your grass will not dry out. Aim to water your lawn early in the morning as less water will be evaporated and your grass has a chance to dry out before it gets dark.

Aerating your lawn allows oxygen and nutrients to the roots grow healthy. Aerating your lawn involves removing small soil cores and helps improve the interaction between the soil and the surrounding atmosphere. Additionally, aeration helps fertilizer and water to reach deeper levels of the soil and also decreases soil compaction. The best way to aerate your lawn is to use a professional aerator, which is available at most home improvement stores. Aeration should be done in either the spring or fall when there is less of a chance that there will be weed seeds settling in the open spaces.

Finally, using a good fertilizer at the right time can make a huge difference to the health of your lawn. Fertilizing the grass in the fall will help to repair any damage that occurred during the summer and can also help your grass to survive during the colder months. Fertilizing in the early Spring can help “kick-start” growth and green quickly. Extra applications during the year also help your lawn to be in tip-top shape.

Sharper Image Lawns is here if you need help getting your grass strong and healthy. Give us a call and we’ll help you with a customized lawn program that works for you.  

Tips to wake up your grass after winter!

Tips to wake up your grass after winter

wake-up-your-grass-after-winter

During the winter months, your grass is dormant but there are many things you can do to have healthy-looking grass once spring arrives.

Fertilizing your grass is essential to keep it healthy. Be sure to use a product for your specific grass type and read the instructions. Apply only the recommended amount of fertilizer as too much could burn the grass.

Another crucial part of maintaining your lawn during the winter months is to aerate. This process provides additional space for grass to create a healthier root system. Aerating can be done by removing spikes of soil throughout the lawn which leaves holes in the ground for air, water, and nutrients. If your yard is on the large side, you could always rent a manual or motorized aerator to make the job easier.

During the winter, it can be tempting to do less garden work. However, if you regularly tend to your lawn, your efforts will definitely pay off! Be sure to water and rake the grass so that any soil clumps are broken up and seeds can be covered. Watering your grass can be done with a regular garden hose (which should be done often so that the soil does not dry out).

Finally, sprinkling your lawn with cool-weather grass seed can make a huge difference! Ensure that the grass seed you buy indicates that it is for “cool weather or season”. Most fescues are good for cool weather. The seed should then be spread over your grass with a spreader (it can be the same one you used for fertilizing). Spreading the grass seed evenly will prevent you from having clumps of grass later on.

If you want a greener lawn, give us a call. We’re here to help!

Is your lawn ready for the Winter?

Is your lawn ready for the Winter?

When fall is just around the corner, you need to start thinking about winterizing your lawn for the coming season.

So, what does this involve, you might ask? Well, the good news is that winterizing your grass is rather a simple process that doesn’t involve a lot of money or time. However, winterization is essential if you would like to enjoy a healthy and lush lawn when spring rolls around.

The first step is to fertilize your lawn during the fall. This does your lawn a world of good because when the weather begins to cool, a lawn will respond by growing slower and moving its reserves of food and nutrients from the leaves to the roots. The roots will continue to remain active in the soil and are very receptive to winter fertilizer (which has a high potassium content). This provides additional support and strength to the roots and helps the lawn to survive the cold, winter months.

As long as you give your lawn a good fertilizing treatment in the fall, it will remain healthy as long as possible and will result in beautiful turf in the spring.

Another way in which to winterize your lawn is to aerate it during the fall. This involves using aerating shoes or a manual push aerator. Aeration will allow water and nutrients to penetrate through to the roots effectively and will precent your soil from getting too hard.

If you notice any bare or patchy spots on your lawn, now is an excellent time to reseed these areas! You will be grateful for this when spring arrives.

Finally, as the leaves begin falling, be sure to rake them away as much as possible. Grass that is covered with leaves can become smothered and can become a breeding ground for unwanted insects, fungi and other diseases that could damage the grass. Mowing over the leaves with a mulching attachment is a great idea as this minces them into tiny fragments and provides the lawn with nutrition.

Christmas lighting tips and ideas

Christmas lighting tips and ideas

xmas-lighting

Thinking of lighting up your yard for Christmas? If this is your first time doing it, it may seem overwhelming but remember to start small and build it up from there.

There are so many ways in which to decorate your lawn with lights for the festive season. This is why a theme is very important- do you like colorful lights or do you prefer a single color? Are you interested in lighting up a Christmas tree or do you want to have lit-up Santas, reindeer and angels? As a general rule of thumb for outdoor Christmas lights, less is more so remember that you need less than you think!

Try and decorate a small area (such as an evergreen tree or your eaves) and see how you like the effect. If the effect is pleasing, you could decorate another area in the same way. Remember to measure each area before heading off to the hardware store for supplies!

Once you know how you want to decorate your property, make a list of the lights you will need to buy. Incandescent lights are the least expensive and you should be able to find a wide variety of colors and options (eg. strings of mini-lights or nets) at your local hardware store. Alternatively, you could opt for LED lights which, although more expensive, are more durable. Always remember to check your lights before hanging them as there is nothing worse than a burnt-out globe when they’ve already been hung!

When decorating, think about how it will appear to folks passing your property. They won’t see the backs of trees and objects at strange angles, so save yourself some money on electricity and decorate only what they will see.

Finally, safety is always essential when decorating your property for the festive season! Lights should only be plugged into GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlets and avoid hanging lights if you think they will touch a power line.

Happy holidays!

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Fall Lawn & Landscaping Tips

Fall Lawn & Landscaping Tips

pinestraw-installation-on-dormant-lawn-in-the-winter

Fall lawn care and maintenance are all about preparation.

Do it right, and it will go a long way toward a nicer lawn in the spring!

 

Even though fall weather is cooler, you should still be mowing and watering the lawn, as needed. As fall comes to an end and you prepare for the last 2 mowings of the season, set your mower blade to the lowest setting as this allows more sunlight to reach to the top of the grass.

Additionally, another important aspect of fall lawn maintenance is aeration. Aerating your lawn allows water, fertilizer, and oxygen to reach the roots and prepares it nicely for the cooler months. This can be done by renting an aerator at your local hardware store.

While leaf raking may seem like an obvious fall activity, it is actually vital to remove as many leaves as possible from your lawn during the fall. Try your best to rake regularly so that the leaves don’t have time to trap moisture and stick together (which forms a sticky mat that is not only difficult to remove but also suffocates the underlying grass and makes it prone to fungal diseases).

Lawnmowers are great tools for removing leaves! Attach a leaf collection bag to your mower and activate the vacuum system (if you have one). Your leaves will be removed in no time and you will have completed one of the most important fall maintenance tasks for your turf!

 

Of course, if you need any help on your lawn, we’re always here to help you out!

Leaf Removal Tips

Leaf Removal Tips

fall_lawn_and_leaf_clean-up_care

It is hard to believe it but fall is just around the corner and that means raking and removing leaves! Here are our top tips for removing leaves…

Before you even think of tackling your leaves, do you have a good rake and is it the right size for you? As a rule of thumb, the bigger the rake, the smaller the job. You may also want to consider purchasing a no-clog rake which doesn’t skewer leaves and prevents you having to constantly unclog your rake.

Another incredibly handy tool for leaf removal is a leaf blower or vacuum. This is especially useful for hard-to-reach places such as flower beds and under shrubs. Many yard vacuum devices have in-built mincers which work to compact the minced leaves so that you only have to change the bag once or twice the whole season.

If your garden has a lot of trees and is on the big size, instead of placing all your leaves into bags, a better idea is to sweep them all into a large tarp and then dispose of them all at once.

Mulching mowers can also help to make leaf removal much easier in the fall. If you don’t have a mulching mower, you could raise the blade of your mower to its highest setting so that when you mow, the leaves will be broken down and will be filtered into the grass blades. This works well for medium to large sized yards and the leftover bits of leaves will act as a beneficial mulch for your lawn.

Finally, remember that when leaves begin falling, they can trap water on your roof and in your gutters, causing it to deteriorate if left for a long period. To prevent this from happening, try and remove as many leaves as possible from your roof with a broom that has been attached to an extension pole.

Prevent invasive Winter and Spring weeds by acting now!

lawn covered with weeds that needs treatment

Prevent invasive Winter and Spring weeds by acting now!

lawn covered with weeds that needs treatment

Anyone who is proud of their lawn will not be a fan of weeds. So, how can you prevent those unsightly winter and spring weeds from emerging?

Well, the first step to a weed-free yard is to have an effective and tailor-made weed prevention program by using a good pre-emergent herbicide. This will prevent the problem of unwanted weeds, especially winter weeds.

Winter weeds normally germinate in early fall and during the winter months. They also grow abundantly in the spring, will flower and then die during the summer months. The cycle begins again in the fall when germination takes place.

If you do not manage them, your garden’s winter weeds can pose a huge problem when spring arrives. During the spring, you want to concentrate on yard maintenance and having an overwhelming amount of weeds will be very annoying.

A good quality pre-emergent herbicide will prevent the seeds of these weeds from germinating and this should be applied in late summer or in early fall. This product will form a barrier in the uppermost layers of your soil and will stop any weeds from growing above the soil. This results in fewer weeds when the warmer months arrive and a better looking lawn!

It is important to remember that although pre-emergent herbicides are highly effective when it comes to preventing weeds from germinating, the product needs to be used properly to have the desired effect. Always make sure that you mix it correctly so that the right strength is achieved and ensure that your sprayer is calibrated correctly.

When spraying your pre-emergent herbicide, try your best to cover the lawn evenly, leaving no spots untreated. It is also of no use to spray only a few spots as open spaces allow weeds to emerge.

Remember that a preventative weed program is essential for a beautiful yard!