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Brown Spots on Your Lawn: Should You be Concerned?

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Brown spots are incredibly frustrating for lawn owners. They are unsightly and the cause of the spots is often not clear. They can also be an indicator of a major underlying problem with the health of your lawn. However, they don’t always mean that your lawn’s health is at risk, so it’s necessary to identify the cause of the spots. The three primary causes are improper lawn care, disease, and growing conditions.

Brown Spots Caused by Improper Care

Many lawn owners are harming their lawns without realizing it, but fortunately the damage caused in these situations is usually easily fixed.

Mowing is already traumatic for turf grass, and improper mowing techniques only make it worse. Rather than cleanly cutting through turf grass, a dull mower blade tears the grass, causing damage and even death. Homeowners often scalp their lawn while mowing as well. Scalping occurs when the lawnmower blade is set too low or there are lumps in the lawn, causing grass to be cut too short and damage to occur.

Prevent damage from mowing by keep a sharp blade at a healthy height (remove no more than a third of the length of the grass at a time) and smoothing out lumps by digging up sod, removing excess soil, then replacing the sod.

Brown spots can also, ironically, be the result of the products you use to take care of your lawn. Indiscriminately applied herbicides can kill grass and other plants in addition to weeds, while pesticides can damage the ecosystem in the soil that is so vital to lawn health by killing important species like earthworms. Over fertilization or improperly or unevenly applied fertilizer can burn turf grass.

These products, in addition to many other products commonly used outside such as gasoline, bleach and other cleaners, and even insect repellent can cause brown spots if spilled in the lawn. Avoid damage from these products by only pouring chemicals over the driveway rather than the lawn, stopping usage of products suspected to be damaging, and using all lawn care products in moderation. Use non-chemical pest and weed solutions whenever possible, and if you must use an herbicide, use a shield to protect non-target plants. Never spray any product in windy conditions for the safety of both you and your grass.

Brown Spots Caused by Disease

One of the most common causes of brown spots in grass is disease, like brown patch lawn disease. Brown patch lawn disease is one of the most common types of turf disease, as well as one of the most damaging because it is fast-acting, able to affect large sections of grass in just a few hours, and targets all varieties of turf grasses. The fungus that causes this disease is active when the temperature is above about 70 degrees, especially when humidity is high, so in Southern California brown patch lawn disease can be a problem year round.

Brown patch lawn disease is not the only disease that affects lawns, but most turf grass diseases can be prevented with the same basic steps. Avoid fertilizers that use fast release nitrogen, as this can increase disease activity. Aerate your lawn while the weather is cool. Cut back on mowing during hot and humid whether to minimize the stress on your turf grass and limit the movement of disease. Maximize light and air penetration by removing or pruning trees and shrubs.

Thatch is essential to the health of your lawn, but more than a half inch prevents light and air from reaching the soil, absorbs water, and encourages the growth of disease. If all else fails, a fungicide may be necessary to control the disease.

Brown Spots Caused by Growing Conditions

Chronic brown spots are likely a result of poor growing conditions. Poor soil can be a problem throughout your lawn or only in patches, and is usually due to poor nutrient content or compacted soil.

Aeration can loosen the soil and allow organic matter to penetrate it, improving the nutrient content. Top dressing can provide further nutrients. You can also look at the plugs while aerating to observe how your soil varies across your lawn, vital information for further soil modification. Aeration can also improve water absorption, lessening the effect of erosion, but more significant erosion may require terraces or planted ground cover.

Improved water absorption is vital during drought conditions, but lawn owners should still keep an eye on dry spots to ensure that the lawn is being watered evenly.

Solve Brown Spots with the Help of a Professional

Don’t worry if you can’t seem to resolve your brown spots or even identify the source. A professional lawn care service provider like Lawnscape has the expertise and experience to help you not only resolve your current issues, but also prevent future brown spots and generally improve the health of your lawn. Contact Lawnscape today to schedule your appointment.

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Pets and Your Lawn: Making Them Live in Harmony

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Pets and your lawn: they enjoy it just like you do. Grassy yards provide our furry friends with an open area to run and play, while gardens provide a surplus of places in which to hide. However, while these games are fun for both us and our pets, not to mention adorable, they also provide our pets with ample opportunity to be destructive. This can lead homeowners to feel like trying to keeps pets happy and healthy is at odds with trying to maintain beautiful and healthy lawns.

Fortunately, this does not have to be the case. With a few easy and inexpensive fixes, our lawns and gardens can be a fun playground for our pets and ourselves, but without the destruction. To find out how, let’s examine some damaging behaviors and how to resolve them so your pets and your lawn live in harmony.

Pets and Your Lawn: Using the Bathroom

Dealing with pet waste can be one of the most frustrating problems for pet owners who want to maintain beautiful and healthy yards. We don’t want our pets to go inside, but we don’t want them using our grass or garden as a bathroom either.

While urban legend states that lawn damage from pet urine is caused by the high level of acidity in the urine, the actual cause is the high nitrate content. Nitrates are an important ingredient in fertilizer; so in small doses, pet urine acts like fertilizer, causing the affected areas to appear greener and be heartier than the rest of the lawn. While this ruins the visual effect most lawn owners are going for, at least it’s improving the health of the grass plants. On the other hand, in higher doses, animal urine can lead to the brown, dead spots we typically associate with pets and lawns.

Feces doesn’t create the problems for plants that urine does, but it is an eyesore, leaves a foul odor, and can get on shoes, lawn equipment, and other things in the lawn and garden if you aren’t careful.

There are several things that can be done to handle pet waste. First, homeowners can create a mulched or pine straw covered area and train their pet to use the bathroom in this area, preventing damage in the first place. Use pet waste bags to remove feces immediately and discard them in compost or a garbage can located outside. Fence in gardening plots or flower beds to keep pets out.

Pets and Your Lawn: Digging

Digging can occur for a number of reasons, including hiding waste, entertainment, seeking attention, and more. Regardless of the reason, the holes left behind and the damage to plants can be a nightmare.

To prevent digging, try to figure out why your pet is digging in the first place. If they’re trying to hide waste, this can be another situation in which picking up feces immediately and training your pet to go in a plant free area can help. This way they feel less of a need to dig because you’re removing the waste, and when they do dig the damage is minimized.

If your pet is seeking entertainment, you simply need to find an alternative for them. Take your dog on longer or more frequent walks, make sure they have plenty of toys inside and out, spend time playing with them, or teach them a few new tricks. Try to prioritize forms of entertainment that involve you spending time with your pet, as this can also prevent digging as an attention seeking behavior.

Pets and Your Lawn: Keeping Them Safe

Don’t forget that just like your pets can damage your lawn and garden, your lawn and garden are not completely safe for your pets. To keep your pets safe, try to leave them unsupervised outside as little as possible. Check the effects that any plants in your lawn and garden can have on your pets, and either remove or fence in any plants that have potentially negative effects.

Double check any fences or other structures to make sure that they are structurally sound and free of sharp points or edges that can hurt animals. Finally, try to avoid the use of herbicides and pesticides, only use herbicides and pesticides that are safe for pets, or keep pets indoors when herbicides or pesticides have been used outside.

Lawn Rehabilitation for Lawnscape Systems

An ounce of prevention may be worth a pound of cure, but sometimes prevention isn’t possible, especially when it comes to pets. If you have lawn damage from pets, contact Lawnscape today to get your yard and garden returned to the playground and paradises they once were for both you and your pets.

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The Best Winter Lawn Care Tips

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Different seasons require different lawn care strategies and winter is no different. In most places, lawns need to be protected from snow and ice. Of course, we have mild winters in southern California; but our lawns still become dormant, so it’s important to take steps to protect and care for our lawns just like we would in less tropical locales. Winter lawn care protects the health of your lawn throughout the cool weather and makes it easier to manicure and care for when the warm weather returns in the spring.

Prepare for Winter before it Arrives

For the best winter lawn care results, you’ll want to start preparing your lawn for winter during the fall. Getting it taken care of before the first freeze will ensure that your lawn is in good shape before it becomes dormant for the season.

Start by clearing the lawn of debris. This includes items like lawn equipment and children’s toys, but it also means raking away any leaves that have accumulated to avoid wet spots, which may become mossy or moldy. Keep off your lawn as much as possible while it lays dormant and be sure to keep pathways clear throughout the cool months to discourage others from walking on it.

You will want to reseed your lawn before it gets too cold to fill any patches and replace any unhealthy grass plants. You should also aerate the lawn during the fall to allow nutrients, water, and oxygen to penetrate the soil and give cold weather seeds the chance to sprout.

Mow the Right Way

During the winter months you should keep your grass shorter than you usually do to prevent rodents and other burrowing animals from making themselves at home in your lawn. Cutting your grass too short too quickly can shock and damage the plants, so lower your blade a little bit each time you cut your grass starting at the beginning of the fall and continuing to lower the blade until your grass is as short as possible throughout winter.

Restore Lost Nutrients

The soil under your lawn can lose valuable nutrients during the summer, especially in warm places like California, so it’s essential to replace these nutrients when the weather’s cooled down. Take the time to fertilize your lawn and apply mulch. Fertilizer will restore nutrients to the soil, while mulch will both restore nutrients and help keep them in the soil.

One great source of mulch is the leaves that have accumulated throughout the fall. Simply run the leaves over with your lawn mower to shred them. You can use your regular mower blade, or you can buy a mulching blade at a low cost to shred your leaves smaller.

Take Advantage of the Beige

Beige grass may be ugly, but it can be helpful for winter lawn care. Weeds tend to stay green throughout the year because they are so hardy, so they stand out in your brown lawn. Use a targeted herbicide to treat weeds. You can also pull them by hand, but the ground hardens during the winter, making removing the roots far more difficult, so herbicides that don’t kill grass, or using an herbicide alongside a shield to protect the grass, are recommended.

Hire a Professional

The best way to make sure your lawn is in the best possible shape throughout the year is to hire a lawn care professional. Experienced and skilled professionals know how to take care of all kinds of lawns regardless of the weather. This keeps your lawn looking great and in excellent health with little-to-no effort on your part.

Lawnscape Systems, Inc.

Lawnscape Systems, Inc. is a Los Angeles based lawn care company that started in 1979. Since then, we’ve grown to service most of southern California, including Ventura County, Los Angeles County, San Bernardino County, Orange County, Riverside County, and San Diego County.

Consumer health and environmental safety are at the top of our priority list, so our lawn care specialists only use EPA certified products. We also prioritize customer service and quality lawn care in order to provide with the best possible service and experience. Contact Lawnscape Systems today to make sure your lawn is taken care of during the winter and throughout the year.

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Setting Up Your Lawn for the Festive Season

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As we pull out the decorations and make preparations to have family and friends over for the festive season, it’s important we also remember to make preparations for our lawn. Whether you’re decorating or just getting your yard ready for those cold winter months, here are some things you should keep in mind.

Aerating and Seeding with Cold Weather Grass

Aerating your lawn sounds daunting, but it’s actually very easy whether you have a small lawn that you can walk over with some aerating sandals, or you need a riding mower attachment for a larger space. Aerating has a host of benefits for your lawn, and is especially important when going into the winter months. Aerating gives your lawn:

  • Increased water uptake
  • Better drought tolerance (especially important in Southern California)
  • Better fertilizer utilization
  • Less water runoff
  • Reduced soil compaction
  • Better air exchange

Following aeration with seeding with a cold or cool weather grass can help keep your lawn looking fresh and green year round. Not all of us can win the Christmas light battle with our neighbors (who can afford that electric bill?), but we can at least have a pretty green lawn while everyone else’s is turning brown and dormant for the season.

Mulch and Fertilize to Keep Your Plants Alive

Harsh winter weather can wreak havoc on your lawn and landscaping. The cold, dry air can wipe out an unprotected lawn and destroy landscaping features. To keep your grass and your plants safe, there are a few steps you need to take.

First, before the weather is too harsh, it’s time to fertilize. The best way to do this is to select the appropriate fertilizer for your lawn; if you’re going to do it yourself, buy, rent, or borrow a fertilizer spreader. Then simply follow the directions on the fertilizer package, paying special attention to the prescribed amount. Over-fertilizing can burn your lawn and actually be worse than not fertilizing at all.

After you’ve fertilized, it’s time to look at adding a protective layer of mulch to your yard. Mulch keeps the worst of the chill off of your lawn and away from the roots of trees and other plants. Just make sure you keep a gap between the mulch and any woody-stemmed plants to avoid rot.

Deal with Fallen Leaves

This time of year has many of us dealing with fallen leaves covering our yards. Whichever side of the “blower vs. rake” debate you fall on, no one likes dealing with a yard full of leaves. And unfortunately, you can’t just leave the leaves there during the winter (and not just because your neighbors will hate you). Leaving a thick layer of dead leaves over your grass can leave you with a yard full of compost and dead grass.

The best way to deal with fallen leaves is actually the easiest: mulch them. You should be mulching your yard to protect it and keep nutrient levels up, and dead leaves make for excellent mulch. Get some utility out of those former annoyances and turn them into beneficial mulch that will keep your lawn healthy throughout the winter months.

Decorating Ideas

Now comes the fun part. Let’s talk decorating ideas. Whether you’re going all out for Christmas or you just want to add some festive touches to your yard (fake snow, anyone?), there’s a decorating blog out there for you. If you enjoy decorating for Halloween, and want to go for a winter wonderland yard this year, there are a few things you can do to really make your lawn stand out.

First, lights are the backbone of any good festive display. They draw attention, they illuminate your other decorations, and they spread holiday cheer (whether your neighbors want it or not). The key to a good light arrangement is to not go overboard as this can be unsafe from an electrical standpoint, and generally causes more trouble than it’s worth. So don’t go the Chevy Chase route and, instead, pick a few decorative center-pieces and then build your light display around that.

Getting Your Festive Lawn in Shape with Lawnscape

If you find yourself struggling to get your lawn ready for the festive season, give Lawnscape a call. Our experts are ready to help you get your yard ready for whatever the holidays can throw at it, and you can be confident that you’ll have beautiful grass to go along with your decorations.

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