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Common Garden Mushrooms

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Mushrooms present a unique situation for those who care for lawns and gardens. On one hand, edible mushrooms can be a delicious addition for those who nurture edible gardens. On the other hand, many common garden mushrooms are poisonous and therefore mean danger for those with children and pets. They can also fall somewhere in the middle by spreading disease in turfgrass, trees, and other vegetation or by not being outwardly harmful, but simply growing in lawns and gardens where they aren’t wanted.

Fairy Ring Mushroom

Marasmius oreades, or fairy ring mushroom, is known for its distinctive growth pattern, referred to as fairy rings. Despite the name, however, fairy ring mushrooms are not the only mushrooms that grow in rings. Fairy ring mushrooms are light brown or off white in color, have a mild odor, and have caps ranging in size from just over half an inch to one and a half inches in diameter. These caps start out broad, like an umbrella, but as the mushroom matures, they begin to take on a bell shape. These mushrooms are edible, but there are several toxic look-alikes, so consumption of a found fairy ring mushroom is not recommended for people without mushroom expertise.

Meadow Mushroom

Meadow mushrooms, also called champignon, go by the scientific name agaricus campestris. Like fairy ring mushrooms, meadow mushrooms grow in rings. They have round, convex caps that can be anywhere from two to four inches in diameter. They are white or ashy grey, but bruise easily, and have a strong resemblance to the mushrooms you might find at the grocery store. Meadow mushrooms are most common in late summer and early fall.

California Agaricus

The agaricus californicus is in the same family as the meadow mushroom, but while the meadow mushroom is edible, the California agaricus is mildly toxic to most people, so, again, it isn’t recommended that those without expertise attempt to identify and handle found mushrooms. It is of a similar size and color to the meadow mushroom, but may have a yellowish tint, especially where bruised, and may have a slight phenol odor. Unlike fairy ring mushrooms and meadow mushrooms, California agaricus grows in patches, clusters, or arcs, rather than rings.

Mushroom Management

Homeowners may be tempted to pull out an herbicide when they first notice unwanted mushrooms, just like they do when they notice weeds, but common garden mushrooms are fungi, not plants, so herbicides can do more harm than good. If you notice a mushroom in your yard, your best option is to break it apart or mow over it. If you have pets or children that may be tempted to sample the fungus, you should pick up the pieces and dispose of them. Your best option, however, is to engage in prevention to avoid unwanted mushrooms altogether.

There are three main causes of mushroom problems:

• Buried organic matter
• Excess moisture
• Low light

Fungi grow by breaking down organic matter in the soil. In your lawn, this could be buried timber, a tree stump, or leftover root systems. Generally, the easiest method of dealing with this is to simply do nothing. The mushrooms will stop growing once they’ve completely broken down the matter, but digging up the buried organic matter heavily disturbs your lawn. If you want to speed the process, you can apply nitrogen fertilizer at a rate of one half to three quarter pounds of fertilizer per 1,000 square feet of lawn. While we don’t get a lot of rain here in California, mushrooms can develop if homeowners overwater or if water isn’t allowed to properly escape or absorb into the soil. Aerate your lawn to ensure proper drainage and absorption, and try watering infrequently but deeply. Finally, if you have mushrooms growing in shady parts of your lawn, try trimming back tree limbs or bushes to let the sunshine in.

If after trying all these strategies you still struggle with mushroom problems, give the professionals a call. Lawnscape Systems is a leader in lawn care in Southern California. Whatever your problem, Lawnscape has a solution to solve it, and we only use the highest quality EPA certified products, so you never have to worry about the safety of what’s being used on your lawn. If you have stubborn problems with common garden mushrooms, weeds, or any other lawn care nuisance, get the help you need. Contact Lawnscape Systems today!

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Best Lawn Care Tips

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With spring rapidly approaching, many homeowners have begun to think about spring cleaning. While maintenance jobs and a deep clean of the inside of your home are common as the days get warmer, few people think to take advantage of the warming weather to thoroughly clean and maintain their lawns and gardens as well. However, taking the time to clean and maintain your lawn during the spring and fall, when the weather is more mild and comfortable, saves time and energy during the summer and winter, when being outside can be miserable. So how can you clean up your lawn?

Remove Debris

First things first: clear any debris in your lawn or garden. Use a leaf blower to clear roofs and gutters, then mulch leaves using a lawn mower or rake them onto a tarp for easy removal. Wind, rain, and other weather events can tear up your trees. Pick up any sticks or fallen branches that the weather has left behind. You can move them to somewhere they won’t be a problem, chop them up for firewood, or use a wood chipper to turn it to mulch for your lawn or composting. Then pick up any other debris, such as animal waste, pinecones or straw, rocks, sticks, and toys, tools, and other household goods.

Smart Weed Elimination

Ideally you should deal with weeds as soon as you see them, but that’s not always practical. If you’re like many homeowners and have let weeds build up, now is the time to deal with them. It can be tempting to deal with weeds by using a generous amount of herbicide, but you won’t be doing your landscaping any favors by overdoing it. Pull weeds or use other elimination methods before using herbicide. If you must use herbicide, use as little as you can and be sure to protect non-target plants with a spray collar. Never spray on a windy day.

Trim and Reshape Plants

Before you start, make sure all your tools are sharp. Trim any ornamental grasses. Prune back any bushes or shrubs. Reshape them, but also don’t forget to remove flower buds as needed to make sure they don’t bloom early. Carry a five-gallon bucket to deposit your clippings and trimmings so they don’t get left on the ground, making more of a mess. Cut back or remove branches from trees as needed. This is a great time to mow your lawn, but it’s also a great time to maintain your mower. Sharpen and clean your mower blades, and check to ensure that your mower belts are free of cracks and wear.

Consider Composting

While cleaning and maintaining your lawn, you’ll accumulate a lot of plant waste, like leaves and plant trimmings. A great way to remove this waste while getting extra benefit for your lawn is to compost it. Use a wood chipper or your lawn mower to break the plant waste down to small pieces, then place it into a compost bin where they can heat up and break down. Later, you can use this compost to fertilize your decorative plants.

Engage in Prevention

Spring and fall are also perfect times to prevent weeds and animal pests. This will make cleaning and maintaining your lawn in the future much easier. Mulch and landscape fabric can be used for gardens. Animal pest prevention depends on your specific problems, but common pest prevention strategies include pest proof fencing and planting pest proof plants.

Professional Lawn Care Services

Cleaning and maintaining a lawn can be incredibly rewarding. It’s a great feeling to see the improvements to your lawn and know that you are responsible for them. For many people, it can also therapeutic and relaxing. However, it also takes time and effort we don’t all have. In these situations, a professional lawn care service may be the solution.

Since we started in 1979, Lawnscape Systems, Inc. has been one of southern California’s leaders in lawn care. Between our two landscape programs and wide variety of additional lawn services, Lawnscape offers something for virtually every homeowner, whether you want to wash your hands of lawn maintenance and care entirely or just want a little bit of help, and because we only use high quality and EPA certified products, you never have to worry about what products are being applied to your lawn and garden. Contact Lawnscape Systems right away to get your lawn in the best shape ever.

Watering Your Lawn the Right Way

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No facet of lawn maintenance is as hotly debated or as often misunderstood as proper watering practices. Conflicting information and the vast differences in how you should water based on where you live can make watering your lawn properly an extremely daunting prospect. We’re going to change that.

We want to make watering, the most important aspect of lawn maintenance, a little more straightforward and simplified. There are a few simple things you can do to put together a plan to keep your lawn watered and healthy, without running afoul of any of the pitfalls of lawn maintenance (overwatering, underwatering, too much erosion, etc). We can also help you water your lawn in the most efficient way, which should help keep you in compliance with any local watering restrictions, particularly if you’re in an area like Southern California, that is frequently plagued by drought conditions.

Making Sure Your Lawn Gets Enough Water

Keeping a lawn green requires a lot of water, there’s no way around it. On average, most lawns require somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 to 1.5 inches of water every week to stay thick and vibrant. Some notable exceptions are areas that stay in shade, which need less water, and hilly or sloped areas, which should be watered in short bursts in order to allow the soil to absorb enough water without becoming saturated, or worse, start to erode.

There is an element of experimentation to watering shady or hilly areas, so don’t be afraid to play around with the way you water your lawn. You might find that shaded areas need dramatically less water than areas that receive frequent sunlight. Then again, you may find that areas that receive less sun need just as much water. With hilly or sloped areas, you’ll want to avoid washing soil down the slope, or letting water pool at the bottom. This all depends on the amount of water your soil can absorb before it becomes saturated and can’t absorb any more.

Water the Right Amount for Your Soil Type

Finding the perfect watering schedule for your soil type is another area that requires some experimentation and tinkering. For example, if you see a lot of standing water every time you water your lawn, and you aren’t over watering, it’s quite likely you have a soil that has a high clay content. Soil with a large amount of clay can’t absorb water quickly, so you’ll want to water in short, repetitive bursts. Thankfully, clay-based soils also don’t let go of water very readily, so you won’t have to water as much or as often to keep your lawn healthy. The water is much more likely to be retained by the clay than it is to seep away or evaporate in arid conditions.

Obviously, clay-heavy soil is just one possible option for what you might have underneath your lawn. For more detailed watering regimens, you’ll want to have your soil tested to get a better idea of its exact makeup, and then change you watering plans accordingly.

Gauging How Much Water Your Lawn Is Getting

Of course, all of this is a bit of a moot point if you have no way of gauging how much water your lawn is actually receiving from your irrigation system. To really nail down the amount of water your lawn is getting, it’s a good idea to test your system before you commit to a watering plan.

Start by rounding up a number of straight sided containers at least a couple of inches deep. You can use coffee mugs, Tupperware, or even empty soda cans with the tops sliced off can work well. You’ll need one for every 5 square yards or so of lawn you want to cover. This can mean your whole lawn, if you have a buried sprinkler system, or it can be just a small area if you are looking to use a hose-end sprinkler or other mobile system that will be moved around the yard.

Set your containers out, and try to get the most even coverage you can. Run your irrigation system for twenty minutes. When that’s done, go to each container and measure the amount of water in each, taking special note of any that have a much higher or much lower amount. Add up the total depth of water in each container, and then divide that number by the number of containers. Then, multiply the result by three to get the amount of water your system puts out per hour. You can then adjust your watering schedule and patterns accordingly.

Professional Lawn Care

Lawnscape Systems, Inc. has been the premier choice for lawn care in Southern LA since 1979. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the trials and tribulations of taking care of your lawn, contact Lawnscape today to see how we can help keep your landscaping healthy and beautiful.

Common Lawn Pests and How to Get Rid of Them

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A beautiful lawn provides a wonderful place for families to relax, play, and spend time together. Homeowners work hard to keep their lawn in the best shape possible, but sometimes disasters strike anyway. Lawn pests don’t really care about the steps you take to keep your lawn healthy and attractive, though sometimes they are attracted to your lawn because it’s in such good shape. However, that doesn’t mean you have to put up with pests. Read on to find out some easy ways to eliminate and prevent common lawn pests.

Moles

Moles are excavators. They ruin lawns by creating tunnels and by eating bulbs and other plants materials. Their tunneling dislodges plants, damages and exposes roots, and creates unsightly mounds. Fortunately, with the exception of mating season during late winter and early spring, moles aren’t social creatures, so you should only have to deal with one mole at a time.

There are a variety of strategies that can be used to combat mole problems, but no one strategy is foolproof, so for best results use several strategies at once. Traps, repellents, and baits are all commonly used options. Mole specific varieties of these items can be purchased at garden or hardware stores.

Pocket Gophers

Similar to moles, gophers damage lawns and gardens by tunneling. Gopher tunnels can divert water and cause erosion, while the gophers themselves may damage roots and even irrigation systems by chewing on them. Typically, gophers are loners, but females may live together to cooperatively raise their young.

Gophers can be eliminated in much the same way as moles, through trapping and baits, but one can also fumigate gopher burrows to eliminate the problem. Once again, a combination of these strategies produces the best results. Purchase gopher specific products from a garden or hardware store or a specialty retailer.

Ants

While moles and gophers are annoying and potentially damaging, they’re not a threat. Ants, on the other hand, can be dangerous, especially if you suffer from ant allergies or are plagued by red imported fire ants. Though it can be tempting to deal with ants by just spraying insecticide on any ant you see, this doesn’t eliminate the colony. Using baits is a far more effective method for dealing with ants, because the ants will carry the bait back to the colony, where it is consumed by many ants, dealing far more damage than spraying individual ants. If you happen to know the location of the colony, using an insecticide to deal with it can be an effective method to deal with ant problems.

Voles

Voles, also called meadow mice, are rodents that cause damage primarily by feeding on a wide variety of plants, from turf grass to garden plants to fruit trees. Voles can be quite easily dealt with using traps and baits. Though voles live in shallow burrows, fumigants are not effective in dealing with them. Voles are also quite easy to prevent compared to other garden pests. Repellents are available for the deterrence of voles, but they are generally not very effective. Instead, a fence around your lawn or garden that rises at least a foot above the ground and sinks into the ground at least 6 to 10 inches should keep voles out. Make sure the fence has no holes larger than a quarter of an inch.

Professional Services

Even using these strategies, eliminating lawn pests may not be easy. If this is the case for you, consider hiring a professional. Though your first instinct may be to hire a pest control service, a lawn care service is often a better choice for lawn pests. Experienced lawn care professionals have specialized knowledge on how to eliminate lawn pests and how to protect your lawn and garden while doing so.

Lawnscape Systems, Inc. has been one of Southern Los Angeles’s first choices for lawn care for almost four decades. Lawnscape Systems offers several pest control options for homeowners including diseases and insect treatments, snail controls, and perimeter pest control, in addition to a variety of lawn care programs and additional services. Lawnscape uses only EPA certified products, minimizing the potential damage to your family and the environment. If you have common lawn pests, you don’t need to worry. Contact Lawnscape today to have your lawn pests eliminated.